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The Self-Defense Claim in a Domestic Violence Case – Domestic Violence Lawyer of Goodman Criminal Defense Attorney


Domestic violence cases are no simple matter. They involve frayed nerves and clashing emotions, often leading to a messy trial when both sides let their tempers flare in court while each accuses the other as being the cause of the case in the first place. It is fairly hard to quantify a domestic violence incident in full, as some details that may be considered early on to support the case may in fact lead the case to fall apart later, such as actions by the alleged victim that nullifies any chance of having a case in the first place. On the other end of the spectrum, unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of standing domestic violence laws in Nevada to put another person on the spot and falsely accuse said person.

Being falsely accused of committing an act of domestic violence is a fairly common occurrence. It is often caused by false assumptions by investigators, an intention to defame the accused, or a miscommunication between parties during a confrontation. In some cases, a legitimate act of self-defense can be misconstrued as an act to deliberately hurt another person. If someone is facing charges because they defended themselves within the boundaries of the law, how are they supposed to defend themselves?

As Written in the Books

Before standing in trial and boldly declaring that any accusations of domestic violence are false due entirely due to intentional falsification by the alleged victim, the defendant must first determine if the act he or she did during the incident still falls under self-defense, as stipulated by law. The key point here is the immediate presence of a threat to the defendant’s person that drove him or her to act the way he did. For example, the alleged victim, who may be the defendant’s spouse, is intent on injuring the defendant to the point of disabling him or her; the defendant perceives the threat and reacts accordingly.

Another important point to remember is that to be considered within the limits of self-defense, the act was committed with no more force than is necessary for the defendant to defend himself or herself. Choosing to commit follow-up actions like repeatedly kicking the other party while they are down can be enough grounds for domestic violence. If, during the act of self-defense, the alleged victim suffers from other injuries like broken bones due to a fall following the act, the case falls into another path entirely.

How it Works

Putting up a self-defense plea during a domestic violence trial works only if the defendant and his criminal defense attorney can prove that the act was within legal limits. Again, it is important the defendant reacted only with enough force to keep any imminent threat away from himself or from other people within the vicinity of the act. Eyewitness testaments and possibly security camera footage must be gathered from independent sources to prove that the defendant was only acting with his or her safety in mind, and he or she had no intention to cripple, maim, or fatally injure the alleged victim.

Remember, however, that even multiple angled shots from different security cameras and varied eyewitnesses giving corroborating statements do not always seal the self-defense dismissal. The jury may determine that there was no immediate threat to the defendant, based on the evidence presented by the defense. This is a common occurrence that usually leads to many false convictions.

Self-Defense, Rejected

Jury rulings can easily dismiss any claims of self-defense on some rather familiar grounds. In some cases, the jury determined that there was, in fact, no immediate threat to the defendant at the time of the incident. This ruling usually happens when the Jury observes the footage provided to support the self-defense plea, and interpret certain gestures and body movements as lacking in merit to constitute an immediate threat to the defendant or to people around him. They can interpret that what the defendant did was an overreaction.

A defense plea can be rejected if the act was determined beyond reasonable doubt to be an irrational response. That is, the defendant acted beyond his capacity for self-defense and went on the offensive. As the aforementioned point on overreaction proves, acting too much to deal with a possible threat to a person’s safety can instead cause unnecessary harm to the alleged victim and to other people around during the incident. For example, the defendant reacts to a punch by the alleged victim by stabbing him or her; the response was disproportionate threat, as a simple takedown would’ve sufficed.

Defending against a false domestic violence accusation can be tough, especially when the alleged victim can easily turn the case around to put the defendant in a tough legal bind. Close cooperation between defendant and lawyer and a better knowledge of self-defense laws are essential to win back the case.

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