Domestic violence is a serious charge with potentially life-changing consequences. Unfortunately, those accused of domestic violence are often found guilty in the court of public opinion before any legal proceedings occur. Presenting a strong defense against domestic violence charges can begin to heal your reputation and protect you from far-reaching legal and social ramifications.
Under the law, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. You have legal rights which must be upheld, no matter what charges you face. An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain some of the most commonly used defenses against domestic violence charges and when they may apply. Other defenses are possible depending on the circumstances of your case, so it is always recommended to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable lawyer to receive the legal guidance you need.
What is Domestic Violence?
Abusive behavior that happens between individuals who have family ties or are in a relationship is generally considered domestic violence. It can include physical or sexual abuse, threats, harassment, and other actions. Because most domestic violence incidents happen at home or in similar private settings, independently verifying what happened and establishing the sequence of events can be highly challenging.
Domestic violence cases often hinge on “he said-she said” accusations. Sometimes there is also physical proof, such as bruises, cuts, and broken items, but correlating these things to an incident can be difficult. Sadly, the private nature of these incidents means false or misleading domestic violence claims can be challenging to refute. However, it is certainly possible to successfully defend yourself from these serious charges, as the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. They must show beyond any reasonable doubt that a crime has occurred.
Is Self-Defense a Valid Argument?
Every state recognizes a person’s right to protect themselves and their property from harm using reasonable force if they believe another person is jeopardizing their safety. Your actions may be justified if you injured a person during a domestic incident while attempting to keep yourself, your children, or other family members safe. However, you must be able to prove your version of events to the court, which may involve:
- Statements from family members, neighbors, or others present during the incident.
- Medical opinions of the accuser’s injuries, confirming that they were consistent with self-defense actions by you.
- Documentation of prior violence or threats from the accuser.
- A thorough investigation of the accuser’s statements to uncover inconsistencies or admissions of violent actions that could prompt the need for self-defense.
Self-defense is one of the most commonly used defenses in domestic violence cases. A skilled lawyer can help collect the necessary evidence to substantiate your claims.
What Other Defenses are Used in Domestic Violence Cases?
While self-defense is one argument against a domestic violence accusation, many others can be used to defend yourself effectively in court. These defenses include:
- False accusations: An individual may fabricate abuse claims against a partner or family member due to jealousy, anger, mental health issues, personal vendettas, or other reasons. A defense lawyer can investigate and find inaccuracies in the accuser’s story and further prove that the incident either did not occur or happened much differently than the accuser claimed.
- Mistaken identity: If the assault happened when many people were present or when the victim was in an impaired state, the wrong person might be accused of the crime. Providing an alibi or securing eyewitness testimony can prove crucial to this defense.
- Accidental harm: Sometimes, situations can occur where someone gets hurt, but no intent or malice is involved. For example, if you forcefully swing open a door without realizing someone is standing behind it, you could unintentionally cause injury. An investigation of the incident and the injuries may provide corroboration of your version of events.
- Lack of proof: If the accuser willingly recanted their story or there is no evidence of assault in the form of injuries, property damage, or other harm, the prosecution may not have enough proof to continue the case.
- Police misconduct: If there were irregularities in the investigation, evidence was mishandled, or the police displayed an obvious bias, your lawyer could argue that the case should be dismissed because a fair trial would be impossible.
Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Domestic Violence Case?
A great deal is at stake if you are convicted of domestic violence charges. The court takes these accusations seriously, as they should. However, an unjust conviction can completely derail your life. You may face legal consequences, including:
- Jail time
- Required community service and/or counseling
- Heavy fines
- Loss of child custody or disadvantages when negotiating parenting time decisions
- Loss of the right to own a firearm
In addition, you will have a permanent mark on your record. Due to the stigma surrounding domestic violence, this conviction can have serious professional and social consequences. You may find it hard to get a new job, advance your career, rent a home, or begin a new relationship. Individuals in some professions, such as lawyers or doctors, may even face the loss of their licensure.
A skilled and resolute domestic violence defense attorney can help you fight back against criminal charges. The future of yourself and your family is too precious to leave to chance when facing such severe accusations. Contact a lawyer promptly to ensure that your legal rights are protected and you can mount the most vigorous defense possible for your situation.