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Domestic violence charges: Can you claim self-defense?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2023 | Domestic Violence |

A domestic violence conviction can have long-term consequences on your life beyond doing time in jail. You will also end up with a criminal record, and the negative perception from others could strain your personal and business relationships. 

One of the most common defenses in domestic violence charges is claiming self-defense. If you acted to protect yourself from imminent harm or danger, it cannot be considered domestic violence, as it is within your rights to do so. But, how viable is a self-defense claim in the face of domestic violence charges? Here is what you need to know:

The circumstances of your case matter

For a self-defense claim to stand up to scrutiny, your use of force must meet the legal definition of self-defense. First, you must have been in immediate danger or risk, and the threat must have been reasonable. For instance, it may not be considered self-defense if you reacted with force during a verbal altercation with your spouse.

Second, your use of force must also have been in direct response to the threat, not before or after. Additionally, your use of force must have been proportional to the threat. Responding with excessive force to a minor threat cannot be considered self-defense.

Finally, you cannot claim self-defense if you started the attack unless the other person continued attacking you after you had stopped or if they reacted with excessive force which put your well-being at risk.

Circumstantial evidence, such as defensive wounds or a history of violence, can also go a long way when arguing self-defense.

Get the necessary legal assistance

A self-defense claim can be an effective defense strategy in domestic violence cases. However, proving that your actions amount to self-defense requires an experienced legal analysis of the facts of your case.

As such, it’s best to seek experienced legal guidance to help gather relevant evidence, argue your case and increase the chances of a desirable verdict.