When is Violence Mutual?
Domestic violence is abuse directed at someone whom you are in or have been in an intimate relationship with. Many people think of domestic violence as always being one-sided. Sometimes, however, domestic violence isn't what it seems from an outsider's perspective. True instances of mutual domestic violence are hard to characterize. Even when domestic violence is mutual, there is still the question of whether or not it was self-defense.
When Violence Is Really Defense
Some instances of domestic violence are really just self-defense in reaction to a perceived threat: someone else's abuse of you. Unfortunately, people involved in instances of mutual domestic violence can still be convicted despite their behavior being partially justified. You have a right to self-defense: protecting yourself using reasonable force against someone whom you perceived to be an imminent threat to your safety.
Laws on self-defense vary from state to state. You should know that the California legal definition of self-defense as a legal defense is fairly specific. The standard you will be held to is reasonable conduct given the circumstances. If the court finds that your conduct was unreasonable given the circumstances, self-defense may be ruled out. In California, you may make a claim of self-defense if you reasonably believed you were imminently going to be hurt in some way, reasonably felt that you needed to fight back, and did not use excessive force given the circumstances. You can also claim self-defense if you acted in defense of someone else. For example, if you fought back against your spouse who was attempting to harm your child, you can still claim self-defense.
Many people assume the man always perpetrates domestic violence against the woman. In fact, many instances of domestic violence involve violence on the part of the woman. This presents an interesting problem. If men fight back in self-defense, they are still more likely to be the party who is charged with domestic violence. While this may initially seem like mutual domestic violence, if one party waited until he or she feared for his or her safety before fighting back, it may be that they were only acting in self-defense. This wouldn't be mutual domestic violence. Unfortunately, while everyone has a right to protect themselves out of self-defense, that right is sometimes not defended in court. Often, men are seen as the primary aggressor. This is part prejudice and part common sense. This often results in the man being arrested and charged with domestic violence when he was actually fighting out of self-defense.
This is very important to understand because if you did not act in self-defense, as it is understood and recognized in the State of California, you could be charged with domestic violence regardless if the other person hurt you. Specifics will matter here. Who initiated the conflict? Who prolonged it? Who was injured and how severely? Who was the primary aggressor? Was the other person's conduct in self-defense? These are all considering factors. These types of cases can be complex and sometimes go to trial. It is possible to make a successful claim of self-defense, but it may be particularly challenging in a domestic violence case.
Speak with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney if you are facing domestic violence charges for what was an act of self-defense. Even if the alleged victim claims he or she initiated the violence in an attempt to have the case dropped, it is the district attorney who decides what to do with your case. While you may believe what you did was self-defense, know that the courts may have a different interpretation of the scenario. Claiming self-defense can be tricky. When it is your word against the victim's, you may need some assistance in defending yourself. This is why it is extremely important to have an attorney assist you with your case. Avoiding a wrongful domestic violence conviction is important and well worth the effort to fight against.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about domestic violence, call experienced domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we know how to raise a self-defense claim and can help you do so. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.