Cases that involve violence between family members are usually emotionally charged. Friends, family members, employers and others may assume people facing domestic violence charges are guilty.
However, even when a physical altercation involves an intimate partner or other family member, people have a right to defend themselves against imminent danger.
What is self-defense?
California law defines self-defense as using violence, force or deadly force to protect yourself or another person from imminent danger or harm. While the law assumes someone in their home is asserting self-defense against a stranger who breaks into the home, it is more difficult to determine who is the assailant and who is the victim in a domestic violence incident.
Proving self-defense in a domestic violence case
To prove self-defense in a domestic violence case, you must prove that the other party took an action that put you or someone else in imminent danger and that you responded with the intent to defend yourself or another from that danger. Often, the parties involved may dispute who acted first and it may be your word against the other person if there were no witnesses.
If you are facing domestic violence charges because you defended yourself or someone else against an attacker in your home, it is vital to build a strong defense. To prove your case, you must collect evidence, such as a confession from the other party, testimony from witnesses, documentation of defensive wounds or expert testimony demonstrating that your wounds indicate you were acting in self-defense.