Although society tends to view domestic violence as a one-sided crime, the reality is often a bit messier than that. It’s not unusual for both sides to be physical with each other. Yet law enforcement in Florida are statutorily urged to identify and arrest just one primary aggressor.
One can argue mutual combat or self-defense in a Broward domestic violence case – but these approaches are risky. As our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer can explain, self-defense is an affirmative defense – meaning you admit to the accused action, but argue it justified to avoid the legal affect it would otherwise have. Yes, the violent act occurred, but it was reasonably necessary in order to prevent the other person’s imminent use of unlawful force against themselves or someone else. According to F.S. 776.012, there is no duty to retreat. Further, as noted in F.S. 776.103, a person who is in their own home or vehicle is presumed by law to have a reasonable fear of imminent death or bodily harm if the alleged victim unlawfully entered or remained or attempted to remove another person against their will. Of course, in domestic situations, the question will be whether entry was unlawful – which it would not be if the residence is shared.
Florida has relatively strong self-defense statutes that protect one’s right to fight off an attacker in the face of immediate danger. However, courts expect solid evidence of that imminent threat. This is much more straightforward in situations where a stranger enters the home. In cases of domestic violence, self-defense is tougher to prove.