What happens when victims of domestic violence in New Jersey become the alleged offenders? At first, this notion may seem outlandish, but this happens more often than many would suspect. Victims of domestic violence may be charged with a violent crime in New Jersey if they fight back against their abuser.
Importantly, victims who fight back in self-defense have a sound legal defense for their actions. The issue, however, becomes proving you were acting in self-defense. Often, instances of domestic violence and self-defense boil down to your word against theirs. You need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney even if you don't consider yourself a criminal.
Fighting Back Against Abusers
Sometimes the victim of domestic violence is charged with abuse instead of being protected from it. Victims who are accused of domestic violence themselves may become subject to restraining orders. In serious cases, they could also be charged with assault, battery, manslaughter, or murder.
The key to mounting a claim of self-defense isn't in proving you didn't commit the act you're accused of. Self-defense is called an "affirmative defense" because you actually admit you committed the crime, but with the caveat that you had a justifiable reason for doing so. Importantly, those claiming self-defense must have believed they or someone else was in imminent danger. The type of self-defense should match the threat level. For example, using deadly force is not appropriate unless you fear for your or another's life.
Proving You Acted in Self Defense
It's easier to claim self-defense if the investigating authorities see bruises and other evidence of physical harm, but emotional abuse can be just as damaging. Domestic violence isn't always obvious to an outsider, especially when the violence is physiological. Proving you were abused and feared for your safety will require strong evidence. Such evidence may include:
- Medical records from doctors and hospitals
- Testimony from mental health professionals
- Text, email, or recorded communication between you and your abuser
- Testimony from witnesses
There's a long list of strategies that can help demonstrate a victim of domestic violence acted in self-defense, but these legalities can be nuanced and tricky.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in New Jersey
If you're accused of a crime after defending yourself in a domestic violence situation, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney. Even if you don't view yourself as a criminal, you still need to mount a sophisticated legal defense in the New Jersey criminal court system. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Legal Team understand how stressful domestic violence situations are. To learn how the Lento Law Firm can help you, call 888-535-3686 today or contact us online.