5 Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges in California

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Domestic violence charges carry profound consequences, impacting not only the immediate freedom of those accused but also their long-term personal and professional lives.

In California, these accusations are taken incredibly seriously, often resulting in restraining orders, significant legal penalties, and lasting social stigma. For anyone facing such charges, understanding the gravity of the situation is crucial, as the outcomes can alter one’s life dramatically.

Navigating the defenses against domestic violence charges requires a deep understanding of the law and a compassionate approach that considers the personal circumstances of the accused. Every case has a unique context and nuanced subtleties.

For those accused, securing a capable attorney is a critical step in ensuring that the court hears their side of the story. High-quality legal counsel will help you navigate this challenging time with dignity and comprehensive support.

Top Domestic Violence Defenses

When facing domestic violence charges in California, it’s essential to understand the defense strategies that may be available to you.

Each case has its own set of facts, and a defense that effectively addresses one situation may not be appropriate for another. Below are some of the domestic violence defense strategies that a San Diego County domestic violence attorney may use. 

1. Self-Defense

In many cases, accusations of domestic violence arise from situations where you were acting in lawful self-defense. California law recognizes the right to protect oneself from immediate physical harm or death.

This defense can be compelling if you demonstrate that you believed you were at imminent risk of being hurt or killed and that your response was a reasonable measure to prevent harm. Documentation of injuries and witness statements can be crucial in substantiating a self-defense claim.

2. False Accusations

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for emotions to run high in personal relationships, leading to false accusations of domestic violence. In San Diego County, proving that an accusation was falsely made can completely dismantle the prosecution’s case.

This defense often relies on inconsistencies in the accuser’s story, alibi evidence, and testimony from witnesses who can corroborate your version of events. A thorough investigation into the motives for the accusation can also be a pivotal component of this defense.

3. De Minimis Infraction

California recognizes a defense known as ‘de minimis infraction’ for offenses deemed too trivial to warrant the full force of the law. This defense might be applicable if the act in question was so minor that it did not harm or even risk harming another person.

This requires demonstrating that the conduct was of minimal importance, such as a slight shove during a heated argument that resulted in no injury or fear. Evidence showing the lack of severity or harm can be crucial to getting a good outcome in your case.

4. Consent

In some instances, the actions that led to domestic violence charges were consensual. This defense is typically relevant when the physical act is part of a consensual scenario or relationship dynamic.

It is essential to establish that all parties understand and agree to the action’s nature and extent. Consent can be a complex area, and proving it will depend heavily on the communication between the parties and any prior similar interactions.

5. Insufficient Evidence

A defense that often comes into play is the simple lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution has the burden of proof, and it is a high burden. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof in the American legal system—as it should be since your freedom is at stake.

If the prosecution cannot meet this high standard, the judge or jury should acquit you. This defense strategy highlights the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, such as unreliable witnesses, ambiguous physical evidence, or a lack of direct proof linking you to the alleged crime.

Navigating the complexities of domestic violence charges demands a clear understanding of your legal options and the strategies that best align with your circumstances.

Each of these defenses requires careful consideration of the facts and a strategic approach to presenting your case effectively. By working with a skilled attorney, you can protect your rights and create the strongest possible defense. 

Importance of a Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer 

In California, where domestic violence charges can lead to severe legal consequences, the role of an attorney is not just important—it is indispensable.

Domestic violence cases involve intimate personal relationships gone awry. Therefore, they are often fraught with emotional intensity and complex legal challenges not present in other cases. This level of intensity makes it essential to have a professional in your corner who can navigate these turbulent waters with skill and precision.

An attorney brings a deep understanding of both the local legal system, its players, and the specific statutes that govern domestic violence in California. They can dissect the nuances of the case, challenge improperly obtained evidence, and cross-examine witnesses to uncover the truth.

Furthermore, a skilled attorney can effectively manage the strategic aspects of your defense, from negotiating advantageous plea deals to advocating for lesser charges. They serve as both a shield and a guide, protecting your rights and explaining each step of the process so you can make informed decisions about your case.

With their support, you can approach the courtroom with the confidence of having a thorough, meticulously prepared defense. This level of legal assistance is vital to ensure the best possible outcome and to begin rebuilding your life.

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges Requires a Strategic Approach

If you have recently been charged with a domestic violence crime, working with an experienced California criminal defense lawyer is key to reaching the best possible outcome in your case.

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, offers our clients superior service and emotional support throughout these stressful and difficult times. We understand the challenges domestic violence cases raise and how to effectively address them in pursuit of a favorable outcome.

To learn more about us and to schedule a free consultation today, call The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, or connect with us through our secure online contact form

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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