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Can you claim self-defense in domestic violence cases?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Domestic Violence

When facing domestic violence charges, it is important to understand your legal rights and potential defenses that can work for you. One such strategy is claiming self-defense.

Since it is not against the law to use force to defend yourself from harm, can you claim self-defense in a domestic violence case? Here is what you need to know.

The law in Maryland

Unlike most states, Maryland does not have a specific statute on self-defense. Instead, the state relies on common law and court decisions. That said, the burden of proof is on you to prove that your use of force was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.

Certain elements must be evident for your self-defense claim to stand. First, you must have had a reasonable belief that you were in imminent or immediate danger. Second, your response to the perceived threat must be reasonably proportional. You cannot use excessive force in response to a minor threat and call it self-defense. 

Finally, you must not be the one who started the conflict. It can be hard to argue self-defense if you instigated the altercation.

The potential challenges of claiming self-defense

Asserting a self-defense claim in domestic violence cases is not as easy as it sounds. For instance, proving that you were in imminent danger can be challenging, unlike a stranger attack, where the threat to your well-being may be a bit more obvious. You may also face skepticism or disbelief due to widespread stereotypes about victims and abusers.

Therefore, it is in your best interests to seek proper legal representation if you are charged with domestic violence to help argue your case and protect your interests. It can make all the difference and increase the chances of things going your way.