Domestic disputes can spiral out of control, especially when one or both spouses lose their temper. You start shouting, screaming and maybe even throwing things at each other without really intending to cause physical pain. However, when your spouse hits you or threatens to hit you, you might be wondering whether it is legal to fight back. The truth is that it depends on the nature of your case.
In North Carolina, it is perfectly legal to stand your ground. You can use force, even deadly force, to protect yourself if there is “a reasonable fear of imminent death or bodily harm.” You do not have a duty to retreat if you are in a location where you have a lawful right to be. The problem is that your spouse has a legal right to be there too. If you fight back, they might accuse you of domestic violence even when they started it.
Claiming self-defense against domestic violence allegations
Domestic violence allegations are serious, and claiming self-defense against such charges does not guarantee an acquittal. If you are the defendant or the person accused, then you must prove the following:
- You reasonably believed you were in immediate danger of harm
- The force you used in response was necessary
- The amount of force you used was reasonable under the circumstances
If your spouse is accusing you of domestic violence for exercising your legal right to fight back, then you must build a solid defense strategy. You could still risk facing incarceration, hefty fines and restraining orders. If there are children involved, you could even lose parental rights.
How the law can protect you
The criminal justice system has its flaws, but an experienced attorney with an in-depth understanding of criminal and civil matters can help you. You had to defend yourself against your spouse in your own home. Otherwise, you could have suffered severe injuries or, worse, death. Now, you might have to defend yourself against your spouse again, but this time in the courtroom where you will need all the help you can get.