Allegations of domestic violence are taken seriously -- and for good reason. According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, more than 1 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year. And while it doesn't get as much attention, men can be domestic abuse victims too.
At the other end of the victim spectrum are those who are wrongly accused of committing acts of domestic violence. For such individuals, a strong domestic violence defense is essential in protecting their reputations -- and their freedom.
For defendants who feel they've been wrongly charged, here are five potential defenses to domestic violence:
- Wrong suspect. If a defendant claims someone else was responsible for the abuse, there are a number of ways to establish the accused's innocence. This may include presenting evidence as to whether the defendant was near the scene of the alleged incident and whether he or she had a reliable alibi.
- Deliberately false allegations. Some individuals make false allegations of abuse against partners out of spite. This is known to happen in child custody cases and divorce cases. To stave off a conviction stemming from false allegations, defense attorneys typically search for inconsistencies in the accuser's story by comparing it to police records and witness accounts.
- Self-defense. In many domestic violence cases, defendants claim they acted in self-defense or to protect their children. A claim of self defense may work if the defendant reasonably perceived an imminent threat, had a proportional response, and was not the initial aggressor.
- Consent. It's rare, but if an individual has consented voluntarily to a particular act, then that same consent may function as a defense against a domestic violence charge.
- Lack of proof. A defendant's strongest defense is often the legal strategy of poking holes in the other side's arguments. A defendant cannot be convicted when the prosecutor fails to meet the requisite burden of proof.
The beauty of our legal system is that it aims to protect both domestic violence victims as well as those who are wrongly accused. To learn more about the legal defenses available to you as a domestic violence defendant, you may want to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area.
- State Domestic Violence Laws (FindLaw)
- Domestic Violence: Getting a 'Permanent' Restraining Order (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Domestic Violence Trials: 5 Tips for Victims (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Getting a TRO (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)