Each state has self-defense laws which permit people to use reasonable force if they were to encounter an aggressor or attacker, and avoid criminal liability. However, every state has its own set of laws governing what exactly reasonable force means in self-defense, and behavior that exceeds the bounds for that state may result in a criminal assault conviction.
An attorney can understand how unfair this may sound. Why should you have to ensure you are responding reasonably when another person has chosen to make you feel unsafe? Sadly, that is the current law and a legal team will do whatever is within their power to see that you are protected from a conviction or harsh punishments.
Claiming Self-Defense in Court
Defendants who want to use self-defense as a legal strategy to fight an assault conviction, must be aware of what this means precisely. If you claim self-defense, you are essentially admitting that you used some degree of force or violence against another person, but that it was needed so yourself or others were safe.
Sometimes, the attacker pretends to be the victim, when in fact they had instigated the situation. In self-defense, you must have used a level of force that was about the same as the attacker. For example, if you drew out a gun and shot at an aggressor after punching you, this may be viewed as excessive and unnecessary force.
Who Started the Fight
In general, a person who started the physical violence cannot claim self-defense. But, there may be exceptions to this rule. For instance, if a couple got into a verbal disagreement that escalated, the boyfriend cannot draw a knife if the girlfriend only hit him with her fist. If the girlfriend then responds by taking the knife and using it against the boyfriend, she may be able to claim it was self-defense despite her not being totally innocent.
As you can see, cases of assault can get very complicated as each step in the incident is going to be scrutinized. An attorney can consult with you and offer advice based on exactly what happened to you.
Determining Reasonable Force
As stated above, a person can use reasonable force in self-defense. But, what is deemed reasonable depends on the circumstances of the incident. Defendants who used additional force than needed to protect themselves, others, and/or property may be found guilty of assault.
In the heat of the moment, many people may use deadly force when faced with a threatening situation. Deadly force cannot be used unless the aggressor had used such force too. With self-defense, there has to be evidence that the defendant feared for his or her life so much so that deadly force was needed to apprehend the attacker.
If you recently used self-defense in response to an attacker, can rely on an attorney for help. Assault is considered a violent crime, so if you are convicted you could face steep fines and jail time. Let a lawyer fight for what you suffered, and advocate for why you aren’t the bad guy. Call today before things escalate.