When a person is arrested and charged with a crime of violence such as assault, battery aggravated assault, aggravated battery or a murder charge, the criminal defense lawyer for the defendant may attempt to introduce evidence of the alleged victim’s prior history of violence. Is this evidence of the alleged victim’s prior violence admissible at the trial? Yes, when the defendant is relying on a self defense theory in the case.
In Florida, when the defendant is charged with a violent crime, self defense is a common defense. If it can be established that the victim has a history of violence and the defendant was aware of this violent history, the criminal defense lawyer can bring out that evidence about the alleged victim at the trial for the jury to consider. The idea is that a self defense claim asserts that the defendant had a reason to believe that he/she was in danger based on the violent and/or threatening conduct of the alleged victim. Where the defendant knows that the alleged victim has a history violent conduct, that is relevant to establish that the defendant had reason to believe that the alleged victim was being, or was about to be, similarly violent in this case. Such evidence is relevant to show the state of mind of the defendant and to justify the defendant’s reasonable fear of the alleged victim and the defendant’s use of violence to defend him/herself from the alleged victim.