Domestic Violence (Penal Code Section 273.5(a) and 243(e)(1)) occurs when you have un-consensual physical contact with someone with whom you are in a marriage, dating or some sort of romantic relationship. There are two defenses to this crime:
- Self-Defense: If you are defending yourself from physical harm then you may use reasonable force to defend yourself. If someone punches you, you may punch them back but only to defend yourself against further harm. If someone punches you and you punch them 30 minutes later that is not self-defense. Self-defense requires that you act in reaction to an immediate threat to yourself. Also, you may only use like force to defend yourself from a threat. If someone slaps you, you may slap back in an effort to defend your self. You may not use a gun to defend yourself against a slap. However, it is conceivable that if a person is being beaten to death and the only way to keep from getting killed is to grab a near-by firearm then there may be a justification for using such disproportionate force. Legally, such a thing is risky of course.
It should also be noted that physical force may be used to protect another. For example, if a person uses physical force against a spouse to protect a child, then that may be considered defense of another and may not be considered domestic violence.
- Mutual Combat: This is an interesting defense which can be used to get cases dismissed prior to and after filing. The party who claims the defense may even be the one who started the physical contact. If one party starts the physical contact but then tries to stop fighting AND indicates to the other party that they are going to stop fighting AND gives the other party the chance to stop fighting, then the person can claim the Defense of Mutual Combat. If despite the initial aggressor’s efforts to stop the altercation he must continue fighting with the other person who refuses to stop, then he may not be guilty of domestic violence for acts that occurred after he tried to stop.
The penalties for domestic violence convictions can be severe.
Contact Orange County domestic violence attorney William W. Bruzzo to learn more about Domestic Violence Defenses (714) 547-4636. Located in Orange County California Mr. Bruzzo has been very successful in defending domestic violence cases.