In certain circumstances, self-defense could be a viable response to the charges against you. However, you will have to admit to your involvement in the incident and prove that your actions were justified to avoid jail time and high fines. Before you enter any plea, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to defend against domestic assault charges.
Arguing Self-Defense Against Florida Domestic Assault Charges
Under Florida's Stand Your Ground law, people are justified in using force—even deadly force—to defend themselves from an immediate threat of violence. Someone can even plead self-defense to domestic assault charges if the threat came from someone in their family or household.
You may be able to successfully claim self-defense if:
- You were in imminent threat of danger. Self-defense is only justified if there is a real and immediate threat of harm. The instigator must be near you and have the ability and intent to hurt you. For example, you cannot claim self-defense if your partner issued a threat over the phone and you went to their home to throw the first punch. However, you might claim self-defense against a much smaller accuser if they had a weapon.
- You attempted to defend yourself, your property, or a child. You may only claim self-defense if there is an immediate threat to you, your children, or your belongings. Assaulting someone for verbally abusing a family member or because they were laughing at you is not self-defense.
- You took reasonable actions. Your actions should be necessary only to the extent of preventing trespassing or protecting the immediate physical health of a family or household member. If you stopped the imminent threat but continued to injure your partner, self-defense will likely be hard to prove.
Are There Any Downsides to Claiming Self-Defense?
If you acted in self-defense, you could plead not guilty as an affirmative defense. Usually, when defendants plead not guilty, they deny that the crime took place or that they were the ones who committed them. In an affirmative defense, you agree that you were at the scene and caused the accuser's injuries. However, you aren't guilty of committing a crime because you have the right to defend yourself.
If you plead not guilty, you will be expected to prove that the accuser instigated the violence and that you reacted, making you the victim of the incident. Evidence that could help you make your case includes:
- Testimony showing that the accuser was planning an attack on you
- The accuser's admission to the police or a friend that they hit you first
- Testimony from an eyewitness who can recount each party's actions
- Pictures or medical records of any defensive wounds you suffered
Speak to a Florida Domestic Assault Attorney Today!
Self-defense is only a viable strategy in a handful of domestic assault cases. For example, you may want to consider another argument if you:
- Caused severe injury to an accuser. The force you use to defend yourself should be reasonable, and severe injuries are less likely to be considered a "reasonable" use.
- Have past criminal charges. Judges are more willing to accept self-defense in cases of a first-time domestic violence charge versus those with a history of domestic abuse.
- Were in the process of committing a crime. Self-defense is not an option if you were breaking into your partner's home or violated a restraining order to make contact with them.
- Provoked the attack. Claiming self-defense after starting an attack is only possible if you clearly attempted to withdraw from the fight and the other party continued using force.
If you were protecting yourself from a partner only to have the police accuse you of domestic violence, do not try to fight the charges alone. Board-certified criminal trial attorney Robert David Malove provides affordable payment plans and aggressive defense services to get your life back on track. Contact us online or call us today at 954-861-0384 for a free consultation on your case. Even if you decide not to retain us, learning your options will cost you nothing.