Domestic violence is a terrible thing, and it is an experience that can leave its victims scarred in mind, body, and spirit for the rest of their lives. And while it’s a great deal more common than many people think, being accused of domestic violence is not the same as actually having committed the crime. Which is why, if you find yourself embroiled in a domestic violence accusation, you need to know what the defenses you have against the charge are.
Defense #1: Self-Defense
When violence is happening to you, the law recognizes your right to defend yourself. Even if that violence is coming from a loved one. This defense doesn’t deny that someone was hurt, but it makes the point that you are allowed to defend yourself when being threatened. If there is a long history of instances where you felt unsafe, or there was a clear and present danger to yourself, or to someone else (say, for example, your spouse was threatening your children, and you acted to protect them), then that is a viable defense against domestic violence charges.
Defense #2: Consent
If the police show up to a couple having a heated disagreement, and one member of said couple has bruises and welts that are still fading, there’s an assumption about what’s been happening. Unfortunately, that assumption might be completely wrong. Lots of couples willingly engage in activities that can leave serious bruises, from historical reenactment swordplay, to BDSM in their private lives. In this case the defense is that, at the time, consent was given, which means you weren’t abusing your partner. This can be hard to prove, unless there was also consensual video taken of the incidents in question… which does happen.
Defense #3: False Allegations
Domestic violence is a terrible thing, and when someone comes forward they shouldn’t be doubted, because it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to the kind of abuse (physical, psychological, and emotional) that these situations can inflict. However, there have been times where a partner will allege domestic abuse in order to gain an advantage. For example, someone trying to get a divorce may find their significant other is willing to falsely accuse them of domestic violence (against the partner, the children, or both) as a way to make a divorce as costly as possible, and even to deny their partner parental visitation rights. Showing that your accuser has an ulterior motive can undermine their case, especially if there’s no evidence to back up their accusations.
Defense #4: Lack of Evidence
The criminal justice system depends on evidence, and when someone is accused of a crime the prosecution needs to provide proof of that person’s guilt in order to convict them. While someone claiming they are a victim of domestic violence is enough to begin an investigation in good faith, that investigation has to turn up facts that support the story the victim is telling. If it doesn’t, then there’s nothing but the victim’s word.
It should be noted here that this defense doesn’t stop other forms of legal action being taken. For example, a partner who has alleged domestic abuse can still have a restraining order taken out. And, if that happens, the person named in the restraining order is bound by the legal conditions surrounding the document.
Above All, Protect Yourself
If you are involved in a domestic violence case, whether you’re the victim or the accused, you need to have experts on your side. Before moving forward, please contact us to see if we can help you maintain your rights.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.