Is There a Difference between Domestic Violence and Self-Defense?
In California and most of the U.S., there is a difference between self-defense and domestic violence. You must be aware of these differences, as they may affect any charges filed, the severity of your crime, and subsequent penalties.
A self-defense charge may also be vague (California Legislature/Crimes & Punishments/Title 8) but is usually defined as a person using physical force to protect themselves from injury by another person or persons.
If the force you must use is used solely to protect yourself from harm, then the use of this force is usually considered lawful. Alternatively, domestic violence can be charged if another person utilizes violent or aggressive action to harm you as a relative, spouse, or child.
These definitions may still sound the same in specific ways, but usually, what is considered self-defense and what may be considered domestic violence is determined by the motivation that causes the violent actions or the events leading up to the incident.
Let’s say another person is threatening to inflict injury upon you, and you feel you may be in harm’s way. You are lawfully entitled to use physical force to defend yourself. The motivation for domestic violence or self-defense might come from several sources, such as anger, shame, guilt, and more. Still, if it is unprovoked, then charges may be filed against the violent perpetrator.
Unfortunately, self-defense can be very hard and legally complex to prove in most cases. You and your lawyer must confirm each element involved in the self-defense case before you can be acquitted of any charges.
Many times, juries in self-defense or domestic violence cases are biased and may side with the state prosecutor. So, hiring an experienced, skilled, and aggressive domestic violence lawyer becomes a critical factor if you are to win your case. A well-versed and qualified domestic violence lawyer has the detail-oriented experience that’s necessary to provide evidence that proves you acted in self-defense and have not done anything criminal.
What Are Some Ways My Lawyer May Prove Self-Defense?
In California, you won’t be convicted of a crime if you prove you were acting in self-defense.
However, proving self-defense is never easy, but some elements must usually be self-evident if you are to do so. They are;
- You, as the defendant, must show that you, or your relative or child, were in imminent danger of physical harm.
- You also must show and prove that the use of force was necessary to defend you or your child against this harm.
- Additionally, you must prove that your force was reasonable and not excessive to defend yourself against the danger involved.
You must remember that just because you believe you might be harmed in the future is not a sufficient defense. As the defendant, you must believe that you are in imminent danger of bodily harm and that the action you took was necessary at that moment.
When the jury or the courts consider all the circumstances present at the time, they must conclude that you acted reasonably and did what any reasonable person would have done in this similar situation; this fact is vital to your defense and your skilled, aggressive domestic violence lawyer is well aware of this fact.
What Are Some Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges in California?
It would be best if you always remembered that domestic violence, and especially self-defense cases, are always challenging to litigate. Therefore, your attorney’s experience is paramount to your success.
Also, your unique case and detailed circumstances will determine the best course of action for defending you against possibly severe charges and penalties. There are many types of defense for domestic violence, some of which include;
- You simply didn’t do it – At times, the victim did not receive injuries from you but from another person. For example, your criminal defense lawyer will attempt to prove that you weren’t even present when the crime was committed.
- The victim of the crime lied – The victim intended to set you up for the crime. The case details were fabricated, and your lawyer shows that your injuries support these presumptions. Inconsistent information and evidence at the scene could support this defense.
- The entire incident was an accident – This is a legally tricky defense because you may have been at the scene but must show the injuries were accidental.
- You acted in self-defense -In this case, you are not the aggressor but were made out to look like you were. However, if you defend yourself or others (such as your child), this may be very defensible. Once again, the evidence must support this.
- There is not enough valid proof – In many cases, your skilled, thorough domestic violence lawyer will show that there is not enough evidence to prove your guilt. Your domestic violence lawyer will show the entire charge, and the crime is based on allegations.
These are only a few defenses your lawyer may use, which are relatively common. However, your lawyer will know and use the proper defense for your case and its concurrent circumstances.
How Can I Expect My California Domestic Violence Case To Be Handled?
California’s courts handle thousands of domestic violence cases each year. These cases commonly occur in criminal and family/juvenile courts. Any self-defense or domestic violence cases where children are involved will likely go through the family court system.
Also, the California courts know that those who commit domestic violence usually exhibit specific tendencies, and many of the cases have distinct similarities.
For example, they may include ways of isolating the victim, using the children against you, damaging property, harming pets, stalking the victim, and many more. These are all “red flags” that the court has seen before. Even so, these cases commonly have many facets to them and, as stated, are always challenging to go through and prove.
So, your best defense to a domestic violence or self-defense case is to have a thoroughly experienced lawyer who will answer all your questions and work tirelessly to draft a successful defense for you.
I Have a Self-Defense Claim; Show Should I Proceed?
First, always be aware that proving self-defense is a complicated thing to do. Therefore, you must have a domestic violence law team that is experienced in this litigation and has a proven track record of success. Any domestic violence charge will have, if you’re convicted, a dire impact on your life.
The domestic violence lawyers at Kersey Law have a long and winning history of defending clients both in domestic violence cases and the use of force due to self-defense. Call them now at (619) 432-3712 for a free consultation on your case. They will use all their considerable resources to mount a solid defense tailored to your case’s specifics.