Allegations of domestic assault are not always cut and dried. In many cases, both of the parties involved in an accident might view how it occurred in very different light. Even when injuries occur, it might not immediately be clear that a crime occurred. It is possible that the complaining witness could genuinely believe they are the victim of a criminal assault despite their injuries stemming from an accident.
If you are facing domestic assault charges after accidentally injuring your partner, spouse, or household member, it is important that you protect your legal rights immediately. This starts with finding a dedicated domestic violence defense attorney to advocate for you. Let attorney Joseph D. Lento review your case and advise you of your options.
Accident as a Defense in a Domestic Violence Case
When you are accused of domestic violence following an accidental injury, the first thing to understand is that domestic assault is a crime of intent. In Pennsylvania, domestic violence includes knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing any type of bodily injury to a family or household member. The law lists those three options specifically because they each have their own meaning. The important distinction is that you can be guilty of domestic assault even if you did not act with the intent to harm someone. That said, the prosecution must show you meet at least one of the mental states listed to be guilty of a crime.
Committing an act knowing it could harm another person or doing something that is so reckless that you should have known of the risks are also covered by this statute. All three of these mental states differ, but they each have the common element that a defendant should have known what they were doing was potentially harmful.
A genuine accident does not fall within any of these three mental states. It is not enough to show that you had no intention of harming another person, however. To prevail at trial, you must also establish that you were not acting in an unreasonably dangerous fashion.
Defense Strategies Following Accident Injuries
When it comes to claiming you accidentally injured the complaining witness, it is imperative that you show the judge or jury a reasonable explanation of what happened. This starts with thoroughly investigating your side of the story. For example, if you were using a hammer or some other tool during renovation and injured someone when you were not aware they were home, your attorney could develop evidence confirming your renovation work was ongoing. If you had reason to believe the complaining witness was not home, you could also show the jury employment record or other evidence highlighting the pattern of behavior you relied on that day.
It is not unusual for the police not to take your word for it if you claim the injury was an accident. That does not foreclose this defense, however. In many cases, a judge or jury could see your side of the story and acquit you on those grounds. Contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686 for more information.