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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Asserting Self-Defense In Domestic Violence Cases

Asserting Self-Defense In Domestic Violence Cases


If you have been charged with domestic violence in Florida, you have the right to assert what are known as affirmative defenses. Everyone charged with a crime has the right to defend themselves, and while domestic violence is seen as a particularly serious crime, affirmative defenses do exist and can help to get a not-guilty verdict as long as the evidence exists to back it up.

Must Show Demonstrable Injury

Domestic violence is defined in Florida as any criminal offense “resulting in injury or death” – including some specifically named, like assault, battery, kidnapping, or any kind of sexual assault – against a family or household member by another household member. In other words, any alleged crime that results in a ‘family or household member’ being injured or killed will generally qualify as a crime of domestic violence. “Family or household member” can mean a host of different people, including spouses and ex-spouses, blood relations, or co-parents, among others. Those in dating relationships are not specifically included under the law.

What this means is that if you and a ‘family or household member’ have an altercation, and they meet the law’s definition of a family or household member, you may be charged with domestic violence if you caused them demonstrable injury. However, if they injure you, and you have evidence that they started the altercation, they may be just as potentially guilty of domestic violence as you are, or even more so.

Is Self-Defense Right In Your Case?

It is common for domestic violence defendants to believe that asserting self-defense is not the best option in their case, because too often, in order to establish self defense, you must concede that you were present at the alleged fight, and that the other person’s injury did happen – there just happened to be a justifiable reason for it. However, depending on specifics, it may be easier than you might think to establish that you had reason to act in self-defense. If you can show that you did not provoke the initial confrontation, and that you acted in the same way that a reasonable person would act, you have a good chance to prevail in your claim.

It is important to keep in mind that while evidence is crucial, certain types of evidence will help your case more than others. For example, in other states, an arrest report might cast judgment on one participant in the altercation more than others, but in Florida, law enforcement are not required to make an arrest in a domestic violence situation. The state legislature has stated that policy should be geared more toward the training of law enforcement and resource management, so as to help people avoid potential charges in the future instead of punishing them now.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with domestic violence, but you only acted in self-defense, it may feel like a tall order to convince the court that your story is true. Having the help of a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can make the difference in your case. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.



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