Domestic violence charges can arise when you’re accused of harming or attempting or threatening to harm a family or household member. If you’re found guilty, you could face harsh penalties, such as incarceration, fines, probation, loss of gun rights, and/or victim restitution.
One way to seek to avoid the severe consequences of a domestic violence conviction is to try to have the charges dropped before your case moves forward. But what if the prosecutor refuses to resolve the matter that way? Can you fight the charges and work toward a favorable result?
Yes! Even though you might not be able to convince the prosecutor that they don’t have enough evidence to pursue your case, you can work with a criminal defense attorney to build an aggressive legal strategy and challenge the accusations.
Casting Doubt on the Prosecutor’s Case
When the state pursues your domestic violence case, the prosecuting attorney must prove all elements of the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The specific elements they must prove depend on the crime committed.
To prove guilt, they might use various types of evidence, such as:
- Previous acts of violence you engaged in (if any)
- Photographs taken at the time of the incident
- Recordings of the initial 911 call
- Written statements provided by the alleged victim
Your attorney will also review this evidence to spot inconsistencies and weaknesses that would make a judge or jury question whether you actually committed the offense. They will also seek out their own witnesses or gather reports to identify contradictions. From there, they’ll build an innovative defense for your particular situation.
Possible Defenses That Can Be Raised in a Domestic Violence Case
Depending on what your lawyer uncovers, they can mount several different defenses to fight your charge.
Examples of defenses include:
- Self-defense: Under Florida law, if a person reasonably believes that they need to use force to protect themselves from imminent harm, such action may be justified and immune from criminal prosecution.
- Defense of others: Similar to the self-defense law, if the actor was protecting a third party from immediate injury, the use of force on the aggressor may be justified.
- Defense of property: The use or threatened use of force may be justified when the actor engages in such conduct to prevent criminal trespass on or destruction of their property.
- Lack of intent: Many of the crimes that can be charged as domestic violence list “intent” as one of the elements. For instance, Florida’s assault law (§ 784.011) provides that the offense is an “intentional” threat of violence against another. If the alleged offender did not mean to carry out the act, they may raise this as a defense.
- False allegations: Unfortunately, some domestic violence charges arise because the alleged victim lied about how the harm or threat they were subjected to. Often, false accusations are made because the alleged victim wants to get the upper hand in another legal matter (such as a divorce) or are jealous or angry.
The above are just some of the ways to fight a domestic violence charge. The defenses raised in your case will depend on your unique circumstances. That’s why it’s crucial to speak with an attorney about your matter and to be straightforward about the events leading up to your arrest.