If a person is charged in the State of Georgia with Domestic Violence, that person has the right to claim self-defense. Not only can the person claim self-defense at trial, but the person also has the right to file what is called an immunity motion under O.C.G.A. § 16-3-24.2.
This is a legal motion made pre-trial, whereby a person can assert that their self-defense claim is so strong that the Court cannot allow the prosecutor to continue with the case. Once the motion is filed, the Court must hear and rule on the motion prior to trial.
In an immunity motion the burden is on the defense to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that they should win on the self-defense theory. Once the defense has raised the self-defense claim, the State then has the burden of disproving the claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge will hear testimony, consider evidence, and make a ruling. Two outcomes can occur:
- If the Court finds that the defense presented sufficient evidence at the pretrial hearing and persuaded the Court that they were acting in self-defense — the Court will grant the motion and dismiss the case.
- If the Court finds that the defense did not present sufficient evidence at the pretrial hearing and did not persuade the Court that they were acting in self-defense — the Court will deny the motion and the case will proceed to trial.
The advantage to filing this type of motion is that it can protect a person who is charged with domestic violence from the risk of uncertainty of going to trial. If the motion is not successful, the person charged, still has every right to fight the charges at trial. These motions can be very beneficial, in the right case, for the person charged with domestic violence.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a domestic violence charge, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.