Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Is Self-Defense In Domestic Violence Situations A Good Idea?

Is Self-Defense In Domestic Violence Situations A Good Idea?


No one ever anticipates that they will find themselves in a domestic violence situation, but it sadly happens to many. If you are in a situation where you find yourself at risk, the option of self-defense may present itself, but it is important to keep in mind that you must be able to show that your actions were in self-defense, or you may find yourself facing criminal charges as well. An experienced attorney may be able to help protect your rights during this frightening time.

Can Sometimes Lead To Legal Consequences

Florida’s law on self-defense states that a person is justified in using or threatening to use force (though not deadly force) when they have a reasonable belief that it will be necessary in order to protect themselves from another person’s “imminent use of unlawful force.” If they reasonably believe that the person will use deadly force, they have the right to use deadly force in return – and do not have any duty to retreat before doing so. This is the well-known “stand your ground” law.

In practice, establishing that a person had a reasonable belief that force was necessary is much more difficult than one might think, especially if that belief turned out to be misplaced. A person trying to exercise their right to self-defense can also wind up in hot water, so to speak, if they use a disproportionate amount of force – for example, shooting someone with a gun when they were unarmed. Nonetheless, risking this is often the only feasible option for a person who believes that they are about to become a victim of domestic violence.

An Affirmative Defense At Trial

If you have exercised your right to self-defense, but have still been charged with a crime of domestic violence, you and your attorney can argue self-defense as what is known as an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is one presented to a court that completely exculpates a defendant – that is, makes the defendant effectively immune from legal consequences. A successful claim of self-defense in a domestic violence case will result in any charges against the person being dropped.

There are four criteria that a person must establish before their self-defense claim will be taken seriously in court. They are:

  • Reasonably believing that a threat existed;
  • Reasonably believing that they were in immediate danger of harm;
  • Only using the necessary amount of force; and
  • The other party being the initial aggressor.

If you are able to establish these as fact, it is generally sufficient to prove self-defense and avoid a conviction.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Being involved in any violent situation can be frightening, but a domestic violence situation can feel like a betrayal. If you have had to exercise your right to self-defense after a domestic dispute, calling a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to protect your rights. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn