The 7 Defenses Used in Domestic Abuse Cases

When charges for domestic violence are brought up against you, your attorney will evaluate the police report of the incident and will then formulate her defense. By studying the police report, your attorney’s goal is to come up with answers to the following questions:

  • What did you tell the police about the incident and is there a 911 recording that supports or challenges that information?
  • Did other people witness the incident and does their account support your claims?
  • How recent are the victim’s injuries?
  • What was your emotional state during the reported incident?
  • What was your emotional state at the time of the police interview?
  • What was the emotional state of the victim?
  • Does the report note visible signs on your clothes or person that you had been in a struggle e.g, injuries, and ripped or bloodied clothes?
  • Are there past reported incidents of violence filed against you by the defendant or other people?
  • Does the home show signs of physical struggle?
  • Do the police observations of the scene contradict your version of the events?
  • Were you or the victim inebriated?

Based on the findings, your attorney will conclude whether the charges against you are minor or major. The domestic violence attorney will also learn whether you have made any statements that could incriminate you or that are inconsistent with your defense.

The main Defenses against domestic violence

When your lawyer determines that the police report is consistent with your defense, she will gather evidence to reinforce it. Domestic violence defenses fall into seven main categories:

  1. I did not do it

    If you claim is that the victim suffered abuse at the hands of another person, your attorney will look for material to support that claim as follows:

    • Your lawyer will seek to establish your whereabouts. That is, were you or weren’t you at or near the scene at the time of the crime.
    • The lawyer will try to establish a credible alibi
    • She will look for any incriminating evidence that can prove you were at the scene. For instance, the 911 recording may have picked up your voice, neighbors could have seen or overheard you, there’s physical evidence to suggest you were at the scene.
  2. She/he lied

    It’s also possible that your spouse or partner could have fabricated the whole story in a bid to get even. If this is your defense, then your attorney will seek to establish:

    • Whether the injuries on the victim support your version of the story.
    • Whether your story is inconsistent with the crime report. For instance, if you say the victim injured herself in the shower but there’s nothing in the report to suggest signs of any injuries taking place in the shower.
  3. It was an accident

    This means that you don’t deny you were there when he got injured, and that you caused the injury unintentionally.

    If your defense is that the whole incident was an accident, your attorney will investigate to confirm the consistency of your story. For instance, if you claim that the hammer slipped and hit your spouse while you were doing some repairs in the kitchen, your lawyer will check for repairs in the kitchen, location of the hammer, positioning of your spouse during the accident and blood stains on other possible weapons.

  4. I was defending myself

    If you claim you were only trying to defend yourself or your kids, your attorney will:

    • Check the police report for admissions by the victim to having used violence.
    • Find out the reason why the victim used violence. For instance, was the victim afraid of you?
    • Compare your story to the account you gave to the police.
    • Check whether some of the injuries suffered by the victim suggest self-defense on your part.
    • Check for defensive injuries on your person.
    • Look for inconsistencies. For instance, is there any damage in the home that could only have been caused by you and not the victim, such as punch holes in the walls that could only have been made by your fists.
  5. The instance of domestic violence can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt

    If your defense is that the victim won’t testify for some reason or because there’s no proof of the allegations against you, your attorney will:

    • Determine whether the prosecutor’s case is built around the victims allegations.
    • Find out if there were any injuries on you and if so, were they only defensive injuries.
    • Confirm whether the officer’s report noted that the scene had damaged property.
    • Confirm the existence of physical evidence at the scene that could implicate you of assaulting the victim. For instance, fingerprints on any broken items that could have been used as a weapon could implicate you.
    • Check whether you made a statement at the scene and what was the statement?
    • Will establish whether you made threats to intimidate the victim from testifying
  6. I did it, but it was a result of the partner’s behavior

    If you admit to having assaulted the victim but assert it was the victim’s fault either as a result of her temper, her abuse of the kids or her medical condition, the lawyer will:

    • Assess whether the prosecutor can prove anything beyond he said-she said.
    • Will assess whether there’s any evidence that can corroborate the victim has violent tendencies.
  7. I did it, but the police can’t bring charges against me

    If you committed the assault but the police committed investigative errors during the investigation, your lawyer will take steps to prove the police misconduct by showing that the police did one, some, or all of the following:

    • The police interrogated you while in their custody but neglected to adequately record the interrogation
    • The police did not read you Miranda Rights during custodial interrogation
    • Your were denied your request for a lawyer
    • Police questioned you after you have specifically invoked your right to remain silent
    • There was no probable cause to conduct a search or interrogation
    • The circumstances of the incident were not urgent enough for a search to be conducted without a warrant
    • The police did not ask you to provide your account of the events before they arrested you. In most cases of domestic violence, police operate with a bias against the accused, which constitutes an injustice.
    • There was physical evidence but police did not collect it
    • Police did not question eyewitnesses present at the scene
    • The police report does not sufficiently describe the incident or offer any observations

The success of your defense will depend on your cooperation with your attorney. Being upfront with all details related to the case will make the entire process much easier. Withholding any vital information could mean the difference between your freedom, or losing your job and even going to jail.

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