Being accused of domestic violence can be devastating, to say the least. Even if you are not convicted, a domestic violence claim can ruin your reputation and threaten other aspects of your life, like your career and/or your relationship with certain loved ones.
If you are accused of domestic violence, you’re facing a serious legal situation that can be difficult to get around. If, however, you were acting within legal limits to protect yourself or others from physical harm, then you may claim self-defense.
Self-defense is a legal concept that allows you to use reasonable force to protect yourself or someone else from bodily injury that is (or may be imminently) inflicted by another person. You can also apply self-defense to protect others from the same kind of harm.
When can you argue self-defense in a domestic battery case?
Self-defense is an affirmative defense. This means that you’ll have the burden to prove to the court that your action was justified given the circumstances. You can typically meet this burden by presenting evidence such as surveillance footage, eyewitness accounts and medical reports that indicate that the injuries you inflicted on the alleged victim were defensive in nature.
You’ll generally need to prove the following when arguing self-defense in a domestic violence case:
- That the alleged victim threatened to harm you or someone else
- That the threat was imminent
- That you used reasonable force to counter the threat for your own personal safety or someone else’s
You may not argue self-defense to counter a past or a future threat. You may also generally not argue self-defense if you were breaking the law when the assault in question happened. For instance, you cannot violate a restraining order and argue that you were acting in self-defense.
Asserting your rights
Domestic violence charges can be complex since they usually boil down to “she said, he said” arguments. Seeking legal guidance to better understand state law can help you protect your rights and interests while arguing self-defense in a domestic violence case.