When an argument gets heated, things can escalate quickly, and sometimes it becomes necessary to defend yourself. However, if you took physical action to defend yourself from danger, you may find yourself accused of domestic violence. Can you be found guilty of domestic violence if you were defending yourself?
Can I show that I acted in self defense?
In California, the court cannot convict you of domestic violence if you can prove that your actions were a way to defend yourself. According to the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM), in order to show that you acted in self-defense, you must show:
- A reasonable person in your situation would have believed that they were in immediate danger of injury or death
- There is reasonable belief that force was a necessary defense against that danger
- Your use of force was within the bounds of what was necessary to defend against that danger
Showing that you acted in self-defense often depends on specific evidence. This may include showing that you had defensive injuries, showing that the injuries experienced by the other party were consistent with defense and comparing your accounts.
It is also important to note that there is no requirement to retreat when defending yourself. This is true even if you could have fled instead of fighting back.
Even with substantial evidence, it can be difficult to prove self-defense. That is why it is important for people accused of domestic violence to speak with an experienced attorney who knows both how to build a strong defense and how the prosecution will build their case.