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Which Defense Is Frequently Used in Domestic Violence Cases in California?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Domestic violence can be difficult for any household. When it occurs, it is important to report and hold accountable those who commit it. However, domestic violence charges are not always black and white. There are many circumstances that can surround a case and sometimes there are false accusations or biases that play a role in the charges.

Understanding the laws of domestic violence and the varying circumstances that surround these charges can help those charged with it defend themselves and remove the potential stigmas that come with a conviction.

Charges of Domestic Violence

The first step in any domestic violence case is to review the evidence. This begins with reading through the police report to answer any number of the following questions:

  • What statements were given about the incident, and are there any recorded testimonies that support or challenge the statements?
  • Were there any witnesses, and what claims did they make?
  • Are the reporting victim’s injuries recent, or were they caused by an unrelated incident?
  • Were you of sound mind and body at the time the statements were given or were you in a heightened emotional state? This same question holds true of the victim’s statement.
  • Were there any visible signs of struggle or injury on your person or clothing including scratches, cuts, blood, tears, or rips?
  • Were there previous domestic violence incidents reported by you or the victim?
  • Is the home in any disarray that could imply there was a struggle?
  • Are there any statements by the police that contradict or confirm your or the victim’s statements of the incident?
  • Was there any alcohol or narcotics involved at the time of the incident?

These questions can help your criminal defense attorney determine if the charges facing you are minor or major and what the potential consequences that you face may be. The answers also help to determine the best line of defense for acquittal or to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Defenses Against Domestic Violence

The circumstances of your case will help to determine the best course of action for defending you against these serious charges. There are seven main categories of defense for domestic violence. These defenses include:

  • You did not do it – There may be a circumstance where the victim did not receive their injuries from you but from another person. When a criminal defense attorney seeks to prove that they will try to show you weren’t in the area at the time of the crime, you have an alibi, or to disprove any incriminating evidence such as a voice recording that may put you at the scene but did not commit the act.
  • The victim lied – There may be a possibility that the victim intends to set you up for the commission of the crime. This could mean the details of what happened were fabricated. The defense will then seek to show that the injuries support your version (which is likely not going to admit guilt) or that the criminal report was inconsistent with the details. Inconsistent details, for example, may indicate the injuries happened elsewhere, but the place the injuries occurred shows no signs.
  • It was an accident – This is a trickier defense in that it admits you were at the scene at the time of the incident, but the injuries were accidental. This must show clear evidence to support your claim. If, for example, you state your spouse slipped and hit their head while you were cleaning the kitchen floors, there should be evidence to indicate that the floors were wet in the arena where the injury occurred.
  • It was self-defense – There may be an instance where you are not the aggressor but are made out to look like you were. However, if you are defending yourself or others in the house, such as children, there is a defensible position. To show self-defense, your attorney will look to statements of violence by the victim to understand why the victim resorted to violence, check the statements you make to those in the police report, look for evidence of self-defense wounds on both you and the victim, or to look for instances of violence within the home that could be caused by you or the victim.
  • There is not enough proof – In some instances, there is not enough evidence to prove your guilt which includes a refusal from the victim to testify. In such cases, your defense attorney will seek to show the crime is based on allegations, if any injuries you sustained were defensive, if the evidence shows any criminal connection or intent, or if you ever threatened the victim.
  • The violence was the cause of the victim – This defense may involve an admission that you may have caused injury to the victim, but that it is the fault of the victim. It is important to understand this is not “victim blaming” but rather pointing out evidence that the stability or aggression of the victim may have caused the violence.
  • There is not enough evidence to bring charges – This, too, involves an admission that you may have committed the violent act, but circumstances such as an improper investigation or lack of evidence cannot prove you were guilty of instigating or committing the crime.

These defenses are common, but which is right for you depends on your case’s circumstances.


Q: Which Defense Is Frequently Used for Domestic Violence Cases?

A: While there are many types of defenses for the charges of domestic violence, the most used is that of self-defense. To prove you acted in self-defense, you must prove the victim was the aggressor. The evidence collected will need to show that injuries on both you and the victim are defensive in nature or that statements support the defense.

Q: How Are Domestic Violence Cases Handled in California?

A: The court system of California is responsible for thousands of domestic violence cases. These cases are split between both criminal court and family/juvenile court. Cases that involve children will likely go through the family court system, and those that further involve child protective services will end up in juvenile court.

Q: What Is the Most Common Type of Criminal Defense?

A: All criminal cases come with varying circumstances that need specific defenses. However, in almost every criminal case, a criminal defense attorney’s objective is to show reasonable doubt. To do this, they will comb through the evidence to look for inconsistencies or contradictory statements. They will utilize eyewitnesses to help cast doubt on the charges.

Q: Which of the Following Are Domestic Violence Control Tactics?

A: Those who commit domestic violence can show specific tendencies. These include attempting to isolate the victim, using children against the other, damaging property, attacking pets, and stalking the victim. These warning signs can help those who find themselves in dangerous situations to seek help and remove themself from those situations.

Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or someone you know is accused of domestic violence, getting the representation you deserve from the onset of the charges is important. At the Exum Law Offices, our expert team of attorneys is ready to answer your questions and help you find the defense that is right for you based on the circumstances of your case. Contact our offices today.