Man Raising His Hand to His Spouse During an ArgumentWhen tempers flare and an argument with a domestic partner gets out of hand, it can quickly escalate to a physical fight. Sometimes, the altercation is pretty even, with each partner giving as good as they get. However, when we’re talking about opposite-sex partners, it’s hard to call any physical scuffle a fair fight. When one partner suffers significant injuries, it’s possible they might claim that they were assaulted, even if they were the initial aggressor. Virginia takes accusations of domestic assault very seriously, so it’s important that you seek legal representation if you are accused, even if you believe you’re innocent.

Were You Acting in Self-Defense?

In Virginia, you are within your legal rights to defend yourself if you have a reasonable belief that you are to be imminently assaulted, battered, attacked, or harmed in some way. In this situation, you are allowed to use proportional force to protect yourself from harm, even if you are physically stronger than your attacker. However, your actions will not be considered self-defense if either of the following is true:

  • Your response is not proportional and reasonable. For example, if your partner is slapping and kicking you, you may grab their wrists and immobilize them, but punching them in the face or using a weapon would likely be considered a disproportionate response, and therefore, not self-defense.
  • You act in retaliation. If your partner hit you or threw something at you and then walked out of the room, you would not be acting in self-defense if you went after them and hit or kicked them. That would be considered retaliation.

If you are physically stronger than your partner and your act of self-defense left them more significantly injured than you are, it might be difficult to claim self-defense if they call the police to accuse you of domestic assault. However, your defense attorney will help you build a case if that is in fact what happened.

What If You Were Protecting Someone Else?

If there are children or other vulnerable people in the home at the time of the argument, you might find it necessary to use physical force to protect them from your partner. Defense of others is handled the same way as self-defense. As long as your actions were proportionate to the threat and it was necessary to step in to protect the child, you can claim defense of others if you are accused of domestic assault. Again, a skilled domestic assault defense attorney will be the key to a successful defense.

Always Take a Domestic Assault Charge Seriously

It can be hard to accept that your domestic partner is accusing you of a crime, particularly if you were not the aggressor and were simply defending yourself or your children. However, once the police are called, there is often no going back. The responding officers are duty-bound to protect the more vulnerable person. They won’t want to hear your story of self-defense if your smaller, weaker partner is visibly more injured than you. Instead of escalating the situation with the police, your smartest move is to call a defense attorney and tell your story to them. Your lawyer will gather evidence such as witness statements, text messages, character references, video footage, and more to prove your claim of self-defense. Even if this is the first time you have ever been accused of assault, you owe it to your future to take the charge seriously and call a lawyer.

You Are Facing Serious Consequences

If you are found guilty of domestic violence, you are facing jail time and hefty fines, not to mention a mark on your record that could permanently impact your future. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can talk your partner out of pressing charges or that a judge will believe your claim of self-defense without hard evidence. Instead, trust an experienced criminal defense attorney to get the best possible outcome for you. In the Chesapeake region, contact James E. Short, PLC, at 757-410-5042. He will get to work on your defense right away.


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