Can I Still Be Convicted of Domestic Violence If I Acted in Self-Defense?

July 30th, 2018 by Tad Nelson in Domestic Violence

Not all domestic disputes are one-way matters. There are many cases where someone is accused of domestic violence but, in reality, was simply protecting him- or herself from the abusive actions of their accuser. Unfortunately, proving self-defense in court is not as easy as you might think.

Court Rejects Defendant, Accuser’s Changing Stories Regarding Self-Defense

For example, a Texas appeals court recently rejected a defendant’s claim he “acted in self-defense” and that the evidence used to convict him of assault on a family or household member was insufficient.

The criminal charge was the result of an October 2016 incident. The defendant and the accuser were previously in a dating relationship. On the day in question, the accuser allowed the defendant into her home. She said he then “broke her television” and was “frightening her.” This led to a series of 911 calls.

When police later arrived at the scene, the accuser “showed them fresh bruises on her neck and arms,” which she said the defendant caused. In a subsequent written statement, the accuser said the defendant “grabbed her arm twice with his hands, caused her pain, and left her with bruises.” However, several months later the accuser recanted her story and signed a “non-prosecution affidavit” in which she now said the defendant “did not assault her.” At trial, the accuser changed her story again, stating she was the one who hit the defendant and that she “supposed” he acted in self-defense when he then injured her.

The arresting officer also testified at trial. He told the jury that on the day of the incident, the accuser said the defendant assaulted her. She never mentioned hitting the defendant herself or him acting in self-defense to restrain her. Nor did the defendant raise self-defense when he initially spoke to the officer. Instead, he said he had “an argument” with the accuser but that it did not turn physical.

The jury found the defendant guilty. The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. As the appeals court explained, there were only three possible scenarios in this case:

  • The defendant assaulted the accuser, causing her bruises;
  • The defendant and the accuser had a verbal fight that did not escalate into physical violence; or
  • The accuser assaulted the defendant and he bruised her while reacting in self-defense.

Based on the evidence presented, the Court of Appeals said the jury “could have found beyond a reasonable doubt” that the first scenario was the truth. Notably, the court pointed to the failure of either the defendant or the accuser to raise self-defense at the time of his arrest and the recording of the accuser’s 911 call, which indicated the defendant “terrified her and that she was focused on avoiding physically confronting him.”

Contact a Galveston Domestic Violence Attorney

Even in cases where you know self-defense is the truth, proving it to a jury is still not an easy task. This is why you need to work with an experienced Galveston domestic violence lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 if you have been accused of domestic violence and require immediate assistance.

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