Domestic abuse cases are always complex, emotional, and can be devastating for both alleged offenders and abuse victims. While the criminal justice system is set up to protect victims from abuse and take preemptive action to prevent injury or death, these cases are difficult for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges to weigh. Those accused of domestic violence need experienced, strategic defense. Any allegation or conviction can result in serious penalties and long-term consequences. Accused offenders may lose custody of their children, be sent to jail, and be strapped with a damaging criminal record.
Alleged domestic abuse is one of the most commonly reported crimes in the country. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there are over 1 million women who report physical assault by a partner every year. There are also thousands of cases that name men as victims of abuse. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneysunderstand that domestic abuse cases involve serious allegations and harsh penalties. We offer counsel and advocacy to those who are forced to defend themselves in cases involving a family member, spouse, or ex. Here are defense options for individuals who were wrongfully accused of domestic violence:
Lack of evidence: In every criminal case, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. In domestic abuse cases, it is important to raise challenges to evidence in the case and the allegations of the accuser. The most common and effective legal strategy in these cases is to “poke holes” in the case of the prosecution and to demonstrate that the state has not met its burden of proof.
False accusations: For many alleged domestic abusers, it is clear that their spouse or ex is being vindictive and purposefully making false accusations. False accusations may be an attempt to get back at a former lover or to gain leverage in a custody case. To effectively prevent a conviction based on false accusations, an experienced attorney must look for inconsistencies in the accuser’s story. These details can then be compared to other accounts, including witness statements and police records.
Consent: Couples have complicated and varied sex lives. In some cases, individuals will consent voluntarily to certain acts. This is a more difficult defense to prove, but it has worked in cases where a defense attorney demonstrated a prior history of similar acts and abuse with consent.
Self-defense: Domestic abuse scenarios commonly involve a “he-said, she-said” situation. In many cases, both parties are responsible for physical abuse. If a defendant acted in self-defense or to protect the children against a volatile parent, this evidence must be presented in court. The self-defense strategy is viable if the defendant can prove that he perceived an imminent threat, responded proportionally to the offense, and was not the initial aggressor.
A defendant in a domestic abuse case should take immediate action to build a defense. While the prosecution will begin building a case before charges are filed, defendants must respond aggressively to ensure that they are fairly represented in court. Though the criminal justice system aims to protect both alleged victims and offenders, defendants may face an unfair playing field when entering the courtroom without adequate preparation and defense.