Domestic abuse is one of the worst accusations you can experience. Legally, it can lead to hefty sentences and fines, but the impact goes far beyond that. It can ruin your reputation, following you around like a stain. You could lose friends, have family members turn on you, or even suffer career consequences.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, you need a skilled defense from a good lawyer. Remember, no matter what the charge, you are entitled to a defense. The state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are holes in the prosecution’s case, a good lawyer can exploit these, helping create the doubt needed to preserve your freedom.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Before exploring defenses, it’s important to define what a domestic violence charge is. If two people get into a parking dispute and exchange blows, we know that isn’t an example of domestic violence. But have you ever asked yourself what, exactly, domestic violence is?
Domestic violence happens between romantic partners. This can be spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, casual flings, and so on. The definition also extends beyond the present. Former spouses, partners, boyfriends/girlfriends, and the like can be accused of domestic violence. Even if the relationship has been over for years, violence between such parties can be classified as domestic.
Domestic violence can also happen between family members, regardless of where each person lives. If someone angrily drives to their brother’s house to beat them up, they can be accused of domestic violence.
Domestic violence can also happen between housemates, regardless of their relationship. If you get into a violent dispute with a roommate, someone you never interact with outside the home, you could be charged with domestic violence.
Now that we’ve cleared up what the charge entails, here are some credible defenses you can use in court.
Prove That You Didn’t Do It
This is, quite simply, your best defense when you are innocent. Domestic violence charges are tricky. The law has created good-intentioned systems for victims. For example, police can arrest someone they suspect of domestic violence, even when the alleged victim says nothing happened. This law exists to benefit a victim who is too afraid to speak up. It also results in false accusations.
Because of this rule, it’s also easy for someone to lie, accusing their partner of abuse. If someone can convince the police of your guilt, you can be arrested.
There are many ways to challenge the evidence against you and prove your innocence. If the claim is simply your word vs. theirs, start attacking the claims. Right away, you may be able to prove that you weren’t even with your partner at the time of the alleged abuse. Anyone you were with at the time can confirm this alibi. Perhaps your car wasn’t even present, a fact that neighbors can support.
Speaking of witnesses, was there anyone else present at the time of the supposed crime? Can they confirm that no abuse took place?
It’s also helpful to investigate medical records. Were there any reported injuries? If so, are they consistent with the story of abuse? Perhaps you were accused of grabbing someone’s wrist and slapping their face. Are there any bruises present on the wrist or cheek? If so, could they be the result of an accident rather than an attack?
What if your accuser claims there was a weapon involved, or they say you threw something at them? Have these items been dusted for fingerprints? When you know you are innocent, it can be easy to debunk the charges against you.
You Made Accidental Contact
Imagine an angry couple descending into a heated argument. Voices rise, and arms wildly gesticulate. During a particularly heated moment, you spin to point at your partner. Not realizing how close they were, the clenched part of your hand strikes their face, sending them sprawling. Out of anger, they accuse you of domestic abuse.
Criminal convictions should not be the result of technicality. For this reason, prosecutors focus on “intent” to build their cases. When hitting someone was not your objective, you should not be forced to suffer legal consequences. Proving that any physical contact was a mistake is a strong defense in court.
You Believed You Had No Choice
In a heated situation, you can sometimes feel like violence is your only option. Imagine someone in your home is having a mental breakdown. They are screaming, throwing things, and so on. The behavior may not be directed at anyone, but it is disturbing. The children are scared, and so are you. Out of desperation, you may approach this person and slap them, hoping to calm them down. Your arresting officer may not be sensitive to your plight, and prosecutors could believe you deserve punishment.
Even so, you can still use the belief that you had no choice in court. Remember that intent is a big part of any strong criminal prosecution. You can argue that you felt you had no other recourse in that moment, and you resorted to violence to help restore order.
For help with a sound domestic violence defense, contact our attorney for help. You can reach our office online or at (540) 827-4446.