top of page

Understanding the Common Defense Arguments in Domestic Violence Cases


As professionals in the field of child crimes investigations, it is important to understand the common defense arguments made by offenders accused of domestic violence or intimate partner violence, as well as their defense attorneys. Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects both adults and children, and understanding the tactics used by offenders and their attorneys can help investigators and prosecutors build stronger cases and hold offenders accountable.


Excuse – “They’re lying about me to gain an advantage in court.”


One of the most common defense arguments made in cases of domestic violence is that the victim is lying or exaggerating the abuse. Offenders and their attorneys may argue that the victim is making false accusations in order to gain an advantage in a divorce or custody battle, or to seek revenge for some perceived wrongdoing. They may also argue that the victim is unstable or has a history of making false accusations.


One way that investigators and prosecutors can eliminate the defense argument of false accusations is by conducting a thorough and objective investigation. This includes gathering evidence from the scene of the incident, interviewing witnesses, and examining any relevant medical records or other documentation. By carefully analyzing all available evidence, investigators can establish a clear timeline of events and determine the validity of the victim's claims.


Another way to counter the defense argument of false accusations is by taking steps to protect the victim and prevent further abuse. This may include obtaining a protective order or restraining order to keep the accused individual away from the victim, as well as connecting the victim with resources such as counseling, support groups, and legal assistance.


Prosecutors can also work to undermine the credibility of the offender's defense. This may include cross-examining the offender and any witnesses they may call, as well as presenting evidence of prior incidents of abuse or violence. Prosecutors can also work with expert witnesses, such as domestic violence counselors or medical professionals, to provide testimony that supports the victim's claims and discredits the offender's defense.


It is important for investigators and prosecutors to understand the complex dynamics of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. Victims of domestic violence may be reluctant to come forward or may minimize the abuse they have experienced out of fear, shame, or a desire to protect their abuser. By providing a supportive and empathetic environment for victims, investigators and prosecutors can help to build trust and encourage victims to share their experiences.


Excuse – “I didn’t mean to hurt her. Everything just got out of control.”


Another defense argument is that the abuse was not intentional, but rather the result of a misunderstanding or accident. Offenders and their attorneys may argue that the abuse was the result of a heated argument or a mistake, rather than a deliberate act of violence. They may also argue that the victim was somehow responsible for the abuse, either through their behavior or actions.


When investigating and prosecuting cases of domestic violence or intimate partner violence, it is important for investigators and prosecutors to gather evidence that supports the victim's testimony and refutes any claims of a misunderstanding or accident. Here are some ways that investigators and prosecutors can eliminate the defense argument that the abuse was unintentional:


1. Collect physical evidence: Physical evidence, such as photographs of injuries and medical records, can provide important evidence of intentional abuse. Investigators should take detailed photographs of any visible injuries and collect medical records that document the extent and nature of the injuries.

2. Obtain witness testimony: Witnesses, such as family members or neighbors, can provide important testimony about the abuse. They can also provide insight into the dynamics of the relationship and any patterns of behavior that may support the victim's testimony.

3. Consider the history of the relationship: A history of prior abuse can be a strong indicator that the abuse was intentional rather than accidental. Investigators and prosecutors should consider any prior incidents of abuse in the relationship.

4. Evaluate the accused's behavior: The accused's behavior before, during, and after the abuse can provide insight into their intent. Investigators should look for signs of premeditation, such as the accused's attempts to isolate the victim or control their behavior.

5. Consider the victim's behavior: The victim's behavior can also provide insight into whether the abuse was intentional. For example, if the victim tried to leave the situation or seek help, this can be evidence that the abuse was intentional and not a misunderstanding or accident.


By collecting physical evidence, obtaining witness testimony, considering the history of the relationship, evaluating the accused's behavior, and considering the victim's behavior, investigators and prosecutors can effectively eliminate the defense argument that the abuse was unintentional or a misunderstanding.


Excuse – “She caused all of this to happen… She wanted this to happen.”


Another common defense argument is that the victim provoked the abuse or was the initial aggressor. Offenders and their attorneys may argue that the victim instigated the violence or was the one who initiated physical contact, and that the offender was simply defending themselves.


To combat the defense argument that the victim provoked the abuse, investigators and prosecutors can take several steps. First, they can interview witnesses or gather evidence to establish a pattern of abuse and control that undermines the offender's claim that the victim was the initial aggressor. They can also look for evidence that contradicts the offender's claim of self-defense, such as injuries sustained by the victim that are inconsistent with the offender's version of events.


Additionally, investigators and prosecutors can look for evidence that the offender was the one who initiated the abuse or that the abuse was premeditated. This may include evidence of prior incidents of abuse, threats made by the offender, or evidence of planning, such as the presence of weapons or a history of stalking.


It is also important for investigators and prosecutors to be sensitive to the dynamics of domestic violence and understand that victims may feel trapped or may not be able to leave the situation due to a variety of factors such as financial dependence, fear of retaliation, or lack of social support. This understanding can inform the investigation and prosecution and help to counter the defense's argument that the victim was responsible for the abuse.


Investigators and prosecutors can work with victim advocates and support services to ensure that the victim has access to resources and support throughout the investigation and prosecution process. This can help to counter any attempts by the defense to portray the victim as unstable or unreliable.


Excuse – “We were both physically fighting… It wasn’t just me.”


Another defense argument is that the abuse was mutual, rather than one-sided. Offenders and their attorneys may argue that both parties were involved in the violence and that the victim is not entirely innocent.


To counter the defense argument of mutual abuse, investigators and prosecutors can gather evidence to show that the abuse was not mutual and that the victim was the primary target of the violence. This can include witness statements, medical records, and photos of injuries. It may also be important to conduct a thorough history of the relationship to show patterns of abuse and control by the accused individual.


Investigators and prosecutors can also work to establish the power dynamic in the relationship, demonstrating that the accused individual had more power and control over the victim, and therefore was more likely to be the primary aggressor. This can be done through testimony from witnesses and victims, as well as by examining financial and employment records, and evidence of other forms of control or coercion.


Additionally, investigators and prosecutors can work to challenge the credibility of the accused individual and their attorney's arguments by presenting evidence of the offender's history of abuse or criminal behavior. This can include prior incidents of domestic violence, as well as any other criminal charges or convictions.


It's important for investigators and prosecutors to be prepared to challenge these common defense arguments in cases of domestic violence, and to gather strong evidence to support their case. By doing so, they can ensure that offenders are held accountable for their actions and that victims receive the support and justice they deserve.


Excuse – “I did hit her, but I was only defending myself.”


Offenders and their attorneys may argue that the abuse was justified, either due to self-defense or as a means of discipline. They may argue that the offender was defending themselves from the victim, or that they were disciplining the victim for bad behavior.


To eliminate the defense argument of justification, investigators and prosecutors can gather evidence that disproves the claim of self-defense or discipline. They can conduct interviews with witnesses, gather medical evidence, and analyze the circumstances of the abuse to determine if it was truly necessary for the offender to use violence. They can also look for patterns of abuse that suggest a history of violence or control rather than isolated incidents of self-defense.


In addition, investigators and prosecutors can emphasize the power imbalance that often exists in cases of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. They can point out that the offender may have used their physical or emotional power to control and intimidate the victim, making any claim of self-defense or discipline irrelevant.


Furthermore, it is important for investigators and prosecutors to thoroughly educate themselves on the dynamics of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. This includes understanding the tactics of abuse, the common defense strategies used by offenders, and the psychological impact that abuse can have on victims. By doing so, they can build a stronger case against the offender and present a more convincing argument to the court.


Conclusion:


As child abuse professionals, it is important to be aware of these common defense arguments and to gather as much evidence as possible to disprove them. This may involve interviewing witnesses, gathering medical records, and documenting the victim's injuries and statements. It may also involve collaborating with other professionals, such as mental health practitioners, to understand the dynamics of the relationship and the potential for abuse.


It is also important to remember that domestic violence is a complex issue that often involves power and control. Offenders may use a variety of tactics, including intimidation, manipulation, and gaslighting, to maintain control over their victims. As such, it is important for investigators and prosecutors to be knowledgeable about the dynamics of domestic violence and to approach each case with sensitivity and empathy.


Understanding the common defense arguments made by offenders and their attorneys in cases of domestic violence or intimate partner violence is crucial for child abuse professionals. By gathering as much evidence as possible and working collaboratively with other professionals, we can build strong cases that hold offenders accountable and protect victims and their families from further harm.

391 views

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page