WHAT DEFENSES ARE AVAILABLE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES?
I didn’t do it. A Defendant does not have to prove that he did not commit a battery. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant did commit a battery, that it was not legally justified, that it was a domestic relationship, and that it occurred in the jurisdiction. If they can’t prove all of that, then they lose. To properly defend the case it is important to properly evaluate and attack the credibility and reliability of the prosecution witnesses. This is why an experienced attorney is vital to your case.
The prosecution can’t prove it: This can happen for many reasons. They may not be able to secure the testimony of a necessary witness. The evidence may be corrupted, suppressed because it was not taken legally, lost or be inconclusive. However, if you do not hire a lawyer, plead not guilty and set the case for trial; then you may never find out that the prosecution cannot prove their case.
The following are affirmative defenses. This means that force was used, but it was legally justified and therefore the Defendant is not guilty. Once an affirmative defense is properly raised It is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the battery was not legally justified:
Self Defense: A person is allowed to use reasonable force to defend himself. A person using this defense must assert that he or she is in imminent fear of bodily injury and that this fear was justified. This is evaluated on a case by case basis. Some of the factors may include whether the Defendant knew the other person had been violent in the past, whether the accused was injured, disabled, weaker or smaller then the other person involved in the fight. I have had many cases where a husband was attacked by his wife and all he did was push her out of the way to get out of the house. This is often a successful use of self defense.
Defense of Others: This applies If you were defending someone else such as a child. Many of the same factors used to evaluate self defense apply here.
Defense of Property: This is a rarely used defense. I once had a case where a husband and wife were in a terrible argument. The husband got drunk and grabbed the wife’s prescription medications and threatened to flush them down the toilet. The wife screamed and pleaded for her husband to return the medications. She needed her medications to live. She also did not think they could be replaced. The wife grabbed a baseball bat, hit her husband (not hard enough to cause serious injuries) and retrieved her prescription medications. The police arrived and the wife was arrested. At trial we successfully argued that she was defending her property and was legally entitled to use reasonable force to do so. She was found not guilty.