Excerpt: The criminal justice system is, by design and necessity, incident-focused. For example, guilt or innocence is usually determined relative to a single alleged act. However, as in the case of the use of violence to defend oneself, the context in which the violence is used may be quite relevant to the issue of criminal culpability. Furthermore, for purposes of bail or sentencing hearings the legal system must be able to distinguish among defendants in order to tailor its responses to their acts and to ensure that the systemÍs handling of cases is effective. The context in which incidents occur is one of the most significant ways in which acts of domestic violence differ.