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Will I be able to claim self-defense?

As a police officer, you know that there are two sides to every story. This is especially true if you've been accused of domestic violence.

The reality is that innocent people are charged with domestic assault on a regular basis. One reason they're indicted in the first place is that they acted in self-defense.

Self-defense is perhaps the most common strategy used when defending a domestic violence charge. This means that the courts are well versed when evaluating self-defense claims. You need to understand how the law evaluates self-defense before pursuing this approach.

What the court look for when determining self-defense

There is a three-prong test that needs to be met for self-defense to apply.

  • You believed you were in immediate danger. This may be a threat of violence or a threat of being touched unlawfully.
  • You believed that an immediate use of force was necessary to protect yourself from that danger.
  • You used no more force than what is "reasonably necessary" to protect yourself from that force.

Factors that may cause the court to reject a self-defense claim

If a self-defense claim is rejected, there are usually common reasons why the defense fell through.

One factor is that the threat the defendant acted upon wasn't an imminent threat. It's not enough to have perceived there to be a future threat. Acting on a future threat won't be justified by a self-defense claim. 

Another common reason why self-defense claims fail is that the fear of harm wasn't reasonable. The court looks at whether a reasonable person would have felt threatened. Illustrating that your actions were reasonable in the heat of the moment is a key to successfully arguing a self-defense case.

Prosecutors are aggressive when pursuing a domestic violence charge. That's why it's so important for you to have a robust defense strategy that protects your claims of self-defense.

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