Do I Have The Right To Self-Defense In A Domestic Violence Situation?

In California, a person has the right to self-defense in order to protect himself or herself during a domestic violence incident. Further, the law recognizes that there are situations where violence is justifiable in order to defend another person, such as a child or other party present during the incident. However, a claim of self-defense is not absolute and there are certain requirements that must be met in order to allow the claim to be made. For example, it must be shown that the person asserting the defense of self-defense reasonably believed that he or she was in imminent danger of being hurt. What this means is that the circumstances of the situation show that the force used was needed to protect against danger happening imminently. Further, the assertion of a self-defense claim must be reasonable, meaning something that society will recognize as normal under the circumstances. And lastly, it must be shown that the person used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger

For example, if during an argument, a husband spits one time in his wife’s hair, it may likely be unreasonable for the wife to crack her husband on the head with a baseball bat. In this example, the spit (although certainly vulgar and rude) is nowhere close to taking a baseball bat to the husband’s head, and therefore a self-defense claim may not be valid.

Throughout my professional and personal life experiences, I understand that sometimes a situation can get heated. As long as the confrontation is reasonable and it does not seem like the client is abusing the other person, I have seen a lot of success in asserting self-defense when the facts are consistent with the self-defense claim.

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