Strategies for Contesting Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence refers to emotional, physical, psychological or economic abuse between family members, those sharing a home or people in intimate relationships. There is no specific crime called domestic violence under New York law. Rather, these types of conduct are prosecuted as other crimes — such as assault, menacing, stalking or strangulation — and are punished accordingly. However, New York has a public policy of preventing domestic violence, which means such charges are often given credence by the courts and are difficult to contest.

Nevertheless, if you are charged with a crime that involves allegations of domestic violence, you have a constitutional right to defend yourself and to retain a criminal lawyer to assert an effective defense. Common defenses that may be raised against domestic violence charges include these:

  • Self-defense — Domestic violence accusations may arise because of a fight started by another person, who then accuses you of having been the instigator. You have the right to use reasonable force in order to prevent injury to yourself or to another person.
  • Lack of evidence — The prosecutor is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime. But in a domestic violence case, the evidence is often limited to the testimony of the complainant. It may be possible for a defense attorney to expose weaknesses or inconsistencies in the accuser’s account.
  • Inconsistent statements — Domestic violence victims may give multiple versions of the same tale. These inconsistencies can be pointed out to show they were untruthful when they reported the alleged domestic violence.
  • Retraction of alleged victim’s testimony — Domestic violence victims may later recant their testimony and/or change their minds about proceeding with prosecution. While the prosecutor is permitted to press ahead with the case, a judge or jury is permitted to give weight to the lack of testimony by the alleged victim.
  • Use of video or photographic evidence — Photographs of the victim may disprove the injuries claimed to have been sustained in the alleged attack. Photos of your own injuries may support your claim that your actions were defensive. Any videos taken of the incident, such as those from surveillance cameras, may help show you were not the initial aggressor.
  • Witness corroboration — Especially when a domestic violence incident allegedly occurred in a public place, there may be neutral witnesses available. In addition, it may be possible to find witnesses to confirm that your accuser has a history of past violence.

Since the courts are responsible for prevention of domestic violence, judges tend to accord credibility to victims’ claims. That makes it all the more vital that you present the strongest supportable arguments that you were not at fault.

At the Law Offices of Maurice Verrillo, P.C., we understand the challenges of defending against domestic violence charges and can develop the best strategy possible for resolving your case. Contact us online or call us at 585-563-1134 for a free consultation.


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