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Can you claim self-defense in a domestic violence case?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Domestic Violence

Most domestic violence claims happen behind closed doors. And these make them quite complex to litigate. What is more taxing is coming up with an effective defense if you’re charged with hurting the person you profess your love.

If you are charged with domestic violence, however, it is in your best interest that you explore your defense options. Subject to the circumstances of your case, you may claim self-defense. But how does this work?

Understanding self-defense

Basically, self-defense refers to your right to prevent suffering from violence by countering the aggressive party’s threat with appropriate force. For self-defense to hold in a domestic violence claim, the following elements must be satisfied:

The threat must be immediate

Self-defense can only be justifiable if you are faced with an immediate threat. In other words, the threat in question must put you at the risk of immediate physical harm. Even so, the New York laws require you to retreat. Thus, you must prove that there was no room for a retreat for your self-defense claim to hold. Any force used against your spouse when the threat of danger wasn’t immediate or when you had room to retreat may not be considered self-defense.

There must be a reasonable fear of harm

To resort to self-defense, you must be reasonably convinced that your accuser actually purposed to harm you. Were they threatening you with a weapon? Or, did you hurt them while attempting to disarm them?

Proving your case for self-defense

Determining whether your use of force in a domestic violence case was justified can be quite difficult. First, you need to admit that you indeed used force against your accuser. And, second, you have to prove that your actions were justified. Here are some of the evidence you may use to justify self-defense in a domestic violence case:

  • Your accuser’s admission to the police or someone else that they used or intended to use violence against you
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Documentation of the defensive wounds you sustained
  • Surveillance footage if you have any

Safeguarding your rights

Domestic violence cases are never easy. Learning more about New York domestic violence laws can help you fight against the resulting criminal prosecution.