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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / How Can I Prove Self-Defense After Being Charged With Domestic Violence?

How Can I Prove Self-Defense After Being Charged With Domestic Violence?


Florida courts take charges of domestic violence extremely seriously, and are justifiably predisposed to believe alleged victims. However, not every case should result in a conviction. There are cases in which a person charged with a crime of domestic violence is innocent, and there are some in which the defendant acted in self-defense. While innocence may be easier to establish if the evidence is there, it can be quite difficult to show that you acted in self-defense. An experienced attorney can help.

Assert Your Claim Immediately

Florida has a wide-ranging definition of what constitutes domestic violence. Unlike in other states, Florida has no one specific offense labeled ‘domestic violence;’ rather, the label is an umbrella term of sorts encompassing any criminal offense that results in “physical injury or death” to a select group of victims – those who classify as “family or household member[s]” of the perpetrator. Note that this group does not include people in a dating relationship; while this does not mean you will not be charged if you commit an act of violence against a dating partner, you may wind up charged under another law.

If law enforcement in Florida responds to a domestic dispute call, whether or not there is an arrest is usually left up to their discretion. However, it is crucial that if you have exercised your rights to self-defense, you communicate that to law enforcement while they are there, so that a record of your claim is established from the beginning. While in general it is a good thing that Florida’s legal system believes alleged victims of domestic violence, it does mean that those acting in self-defense must be prepared to establish that claim early and often.

How To Prove It?

If you intend to plead self-defense as a response to charges of domestic violence, it is important to be aware that doing so can be risky. In order to use this defense, you must be prepared to admit that you were on the premises and that you caused the plaintiff’s injuries – and if you lack the evidence to establish self-defense, you may essentially be handing the state’s attorney evidence of guilt.

In order to argue self-defense, you and your attorney must establish three main points:

  • You did not provoke the original threat or argument. If you started the fight or broke the law that led to the initial altercation, you have no right to allege self-defense because you simply could have avoided the fight;
  • You faced an imminent threat. Essentially, if you hold a reasonable belief that you must use an appropriate amount of force in order to defend yourself against “imminent use of unlawful force,” you may do so; and
  • A reasonable person would have acted in the same manner. If your belief in imminent force being used against you is objectively reasonable, it cannot essentially be held against you.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Being charged with domestic violence can be frightening, especially if you did not truly intend to cause harm, only to defend yourself. A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help protect your rights while you navigate the legal process. Call our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.

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