People have stereotypes about domestic violence victims and abusers. For instance, people usually think victims should be meek and helpless, and abusers should be big, strong, and intimidating. But when you’re talking about a person who has been physically, emotionally, and verbally abused, their sense of self breaks down over time due to constant abuse. In this scenario, using self-defense to protect themselves in a domestic violence incident is possible.
Conversely, an alleged abuser may also find themselves using self-defense to protect themselves against an alleged domestic violence victim. Self-defense is a human right. But when is self-defense a valid defense in domestic violence cases?
What Exactly is Self-Defense?
Self-defense is a defense used by defendants against allegations of violent crimes, such as domestic violence, assault, manslaughter, and murder. People who claim they used self-defense must prove that doing so was justified under the circumstances, such as they did it to prevent someone else from using unlawful force against them. So, if you claim self-defense in a domestic violence incident, you must have reasonably believed that doing so was immediately necessary.
What if you used force to defend another person that’s being attacked in a domestic violence situation? To justify this, you must have reasonably believed that your intervention was needed immediately, and self-defense would’ve been justified had you been in the position of the person you defended. For instance, if you saw another family member getting assaulted and you used force to stop the assault.
How Much Force is Reasonable?
The amount of force you used when defending yourself must have been reasonable. It can’t be more than the threat of force against you. Otherwise, you could be charged with assault or murder if you killed the other person. On the other hand, you are lawfully permitted to utilize deadly force while defending yourself if you reasonably believe the other person would use or try to use deadly force against you.
Using deadly force in self-defense cases is also lawfully permitted to protect against the imminent commission of violent crimes, such as sexual assault, murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, robbery, or aggravated sexual assault.
When is Self-Defense Not a Valid Defense Against Domestic Violence?
You cannot claim self-defense in the following domestic violence scenarios:
- You gave the other person permission to use force against you
- You used force because you were being provoked verbally
- You provoked the other person into using force against you and escalated the situation
For example, you provoked your spouse into attacking you, but when they shoved you away, you proceeded to hit your spouse.
Get Legal Guidance From an Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Now
Whether you have been charged with domestic violence or another crime because you exercised your right of self-defense, the Texas criminal defense attorney at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC can determine the best defense strategy for your specific case. Set up your meeting with our Texas criminal defense attorney by calling our office at 210-222-9132 or sending us a message online.