If my boyfriend’s mother attacked him and he defended himself, can he be charged/convicted of domestic violence based on her statement alone?

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If my boyfriend’s mother attacked him and he defended himself, can he be charged/convicted of domestic violence based on her statement alone?

My boyfriend’s mother attacked him, and he defended himself. He left the house to get away from her. She called the police on him after the fact, so he had a friend drop him off at the police department in order to not be “avoiding arrest”. Can he be charged/convicted of assault/batter/domestic violence based on her testimony against his (assuming he was defending himself)? They were both left with torn clothing/bruises/scratches. She has a history of drug abuse, lying, bipolar disorder, and domestic violence against her children and spouses. He is in jail for 12 hours; do not know about bail yet.

Asked on January 12, 2012 under Criminal Law, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

He can be charged if the authorities believe, based on his and his mother's respective testimony (and any other evidence), that there is probable cause to believe that he initiated the attack (or responded too strongly or too late--that is, even if you are attacked and defend yourself, you must stop the combat when the attack is over or the other person tries to break off; and you may not use more force than is necessary to defend yourself). To convict, the evidence that he attacked her would have to be stronger: beyond a reasonable doubt.

You can charged or convicted based solely on another testimony, if that testimony is strong, believable, and persuasive enough. To defend, you should attack the reliability of the testimony, such as by showing motive to lie or catching the person in a lie, as well as present evidence suggesting that the other person actually attacked.

When charged with a crime, one should get a lawyer to defend yourself. You can help your boyfriend by helping him find and retain an attorney.


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