How to Claim Self Defense When Charged With Domestic Violence

Man defending himself against attacking woman


Domestic violence incidences are far more common than many would like to admit and fairly easy for the victim to be charged with committing the offense. There are a number of reasons why this may happen; some people become entrapped in their loved one’s jealous actions, while others may fall victim to haphazard police work that leads authorities to the wrong conclusions.


Regardless of the reason, if you want to know how you can claim self-defense to help you avoid a wrongful domestic violence conviction, speaking with an attorney can help. Criminal cases involving physical relationship abuse are very complex and will require an attorney with in-depth knowledge of your state’s laws to properly mount a claim.


I suggest contacting an attorney you trust for a free case evaluation.


When Self-Defense is Justified


The self defense domestic violence concept is one that is regularly misunderstood. Although Americans would generally accept that a person should be allowed to protect themselves from harm, there are very specific rules provided by each state.


Although every state allows violent crime defendants to claim self-defense, the rules that determine whether or not a person acted in self-defense vary.


The reason that the rules vary is because different people have different views as to what it means to protect oneself. Even if a person was defending themselves during an attack, that does not give the victim special rights to inflict substantial harm upon their attacker.


This can, in some cases, turn the court system against a victim during their time of need.


Why Courts Reject These Claims


In general, prosecutors will often scoff at self defense in domestic violence cases during every stage of the domestic violence proceeding. Why is debatable, but there are a lot of people who try to use this strategy when it does not apply.


This can make it much more difficult for real victims facing charges to prove that they are innocent. Although judges and juries are instructed to concentrate on the facts, these types of cases affect people emotionally, and if it appears as though an attacker is pretending to be a victim, the courts are likely to come down very hard on them.


The following are reasons for which those who claim their actions were in self-defense fail to convince a judge and or jury:


No Immediate Threat. In order to prove that a person was defending themselves, they have to prove that they were, or that they believed they were, in imminent danger. In California, this means that a person believes that they are in immediate danger of being touched unlawfully, killed, or injured.

  • Immediate Danger Example: Frank and Jenny have been together for one year and have been living together for two months.  They have had their fair share of arguments, but today was different; Jenny was hysterical over some female clothing that she had found in her room and Frank told her it was his new girlfriend’s clothing.  He told her that he wanted her out of their home and that he was tired of hiding his new relationship. She grabbed a knife out of a kitchen drawer and lunged at him with a sharp blade. Frank punches Jenny in the face, knocking her out immediately, and called the police. Since she had lunged at him with a sharp blade, she had created a situation in which he had a legitimate fear that Jenny was about to seriously injure or kill him. This situation would allow Frank’s response.


Irrational Response. Although it is legal to protect yourself against a domestic violence abuser, it is only legal under very specific circumstances. In addition, if a person responds to an immediate threat in a way that is irrationally aggressive or dangerous, this can create problems for them in the courtroom.

  • Irrational Response Example: Marcia and Rex have been together for three years and fight regularly. Rex is very immature and is regularly doing things that drive Marcia crazy. One day, he has a lighter and is threatening that he is going to burn a piece of her hair. Rex is a regular smoker. Each time he would light a cigarette during that day he would motion his lighter close to Marcia’s hair and act as though he was going to singe it. While she is opening a letter, he acts as though he is going to singe her hair. This time, she uses the letter opener to stab him. Although Marcia may have felt genuine fear that Rex was about to harm her, her decision to stab him in response would most likely be considered a response that is not proportional to the threat, leading her to a possible conviction.


California Self-Defense Assistance


Those planning to claim self-defense in a court of law face an uphill battle; many of those who have domestic violence self defense cases do not appear to be the victim, which can be detrimental to their case. A skilled California domestic violence lawyer will investigate all of the facts and listen to your side of the story.


Just because you are charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. With experienced legal representation, you may be able to expose flaws in your prosecutor’s case and have crucial evidence thrown out.


Law Offices of Randy Collins free case evaluation


Those facing charges are invited to contact us for a free confidential case evaluation. Our attorneys have years of experiencing assisting countless dv defendants. They can help you better understand the charges you are facing and help determine what options you have available.


Call (888) 250-2865 to get help today.

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  • jay

    My wife threw a object at me while I lay bed . I reached up and grabbed her and brought her close to me to stop and further attack . I got charged with DV. Comments?

  • Julie Sherwood-Daneshvari

    I’m being charged for slapping my ex when he got in my face after his sister started a fight with me and I defended myself. The thing is he has hit me multiple times in the past and I was scared he would do it again. One time, it led me to have surgery. And his neighbor witnessed it several times. The DA still won’t drop the charges.

  • Casper

    My roommate assaulted me because she wanted to break into my room & take my television. After she assaulted me I pepper sprayed her. Immediately, her friend came out of my roommate’s bedroom that was supposed to have been completely packed up as she was moving out… and had a baseball bat in her hands and began to hit my ribs and my head until I was bleeding profusely. I ended up with a concussion, bruised ribs that hurt for weeks, nerve damage on my scalp, and PTSD. The girl who used the bat on me in claiming self defense and said that I sprayed her, then she went to the room and grabbed the bat (conveniently located next to the bedroom door). The DA is representing me but I am very very worried that this horrible fraction of a human is going to get away by claiming self defense.

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