Emotions can run high in an altercation between spouses or relatives, and when things escalate too far, the situation can turn into a domestic violence charge. The consequences of a domestic violence charge can be serious and long-lasting. Prison sentences, impacts on custody arrangements, eviction from one’s home, and a record that can follow the convicted around for years are all common results of a domestic violence conviction. Domestic violence charges can be brought through both state and federal avenues. Anyone facing these serious charges needs the input of an experienced defense attorney to help navigate the response.
Domestic Violence Defenses an Attorney May Use
The aftermath of a domestic violence incident is often filled with high emotions. From regret to anger to sorrow, both the person bringing the charges and the person being accused can find themselves in a difficult situation. Having someone who can look at the details of the case with a clear mind can provide important insights, including potential defenses against the charges.
There are several approaches an attorney might take when it comes to defending against a domestic violence charge:
1. The charges are not true.
The most obvious and straightforward defense is that the crime was not committed. Anyone who is facing domestic violence charges for a crime they did not commit will want a defense attorney who can help prove their case. An experienced attorney will help with the following:
- Examine the prosecutor’s case for inconsistencies
- Help the defendant establish an alibi and account for their whereabouts
- Make sense of physical evidence and make additional discoveries to help support the defendant’s case
- Compare the evidence with the stories from both parties to help establish a logical and true narrative of events
2. The incident was an accident.
Not every physical injury is the result of malice or intentional harm. In some cases, the victim really has been injured, but the person facing domestic violence charges was not attempting to cause those injuries. In establishing this line of defense, an attorney will likely do the following:
- Examine physical evidence to see how it supports a claim of accidental injury
- Establish a narrative to demonstrate how the accidental injury occurred
- Make additional discoveries to help support the claim of accidental injury
3. The incident was done in self-defense.
There are two sides to every story, and often the details of a domestic violence case are complicated. There could be years of history that help contextualize the specific incident that elevated to a domestic violence charge, and — in some cases — the person being charged with a domestic violence offense may actually have been acting in self-defense. If self-defense is a reasonable argument, an attorney will likely accomplish the following:
- Investigate the defendant’s claims to help support a self-defense argument
- Establish patterns of behavior and evidence from the relationship’s history
- Analyze the police report for evidence that the victim admitted to violence
- Make additional discovery that helps demonstrate the defendant’s own injuries
4. The claims cannot be proven.
In a court of law, accusations must be backed up with evidence. Those facing domestic violence charges are “innocent until proven guilty,” and the burden of proof in these cases is often complicated by the nature of the incident. There are a lot of details in a domestic violence case that can only be gotten from firsthand accounts of the people involved, and they’re likely to remember the events in very different ways. Sometimes, a domestic violence case will lack the evidence to stand. If that’s the case, an attorney will likely do the following:
- Examine the prosecutor’s case for holes in the evidence
- Present evidence that conflicts with the victim’s story
- Demonstrate to the court that there is a lack of evidence necessary for conviction
5. The police mishandled the case.
Getting a fair and just trial requires that those in law enforcement do their jobs correctly. When a defendant has not been treated properly by the arresting officers or the law enforcement agents who did the interrogation or handled the evidence, the case can be thrown out. If a defense attorney finds evidence that a case has been mishandled, the next steps will likely include the following:
- Demonstrate that the case was mishandled and point to specific instances of misconduct
- Provide evidence that a search lacked probable cause or that a warrant was improperly issued
- Establish that the defendant was denied the right to an attorney or not read the Miranda Rights
- Examine the physical evidence and point out when it was mishandled or not collected
A domestic violence charge is a serious offense that can have a lasting and severe impact on a defendant’s life. It is important to get the best defense possible and make sure that the full details of the case are examined from every angle. Choosing a qualified and experienced domestic violence defense attorney is the first step to handling the case with the care and attention it requires.