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3 Instances when you can claim self-defense in response to assault charges

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2024 | Violent crimes

Assault charges can result in serious legal consequences. Yet, there are instances when claiming self-defense can be a legitimate defense strategy. Self-defense is a legal concept that allows a person to use force to protect themselves or others from imminent harm.

When faced with assault charges, claiming self-defense can help establish a legal justification for the use of force. Some of the circumstances wherein a self-defense claim may be viable include the following.

Sufficient reason to establish imminent danger of bodily harm

To successfully lodge a self-defense claim, there must be sufficient reason to establish imminent danger of bodily harm. This means that the person invoking self-defense must reasonably believe that they or someone else faced an immediate threat of physical harm. For instance, if an individual is confronted by an aggressor who appears armed or is physically overpowering and there is a genuine fear of sustaining serious injuries, the use of force may be justifiable under self-defense.

Absence of provocation or aggression

For a self-defense claim to hold, the individual must demonstrate an absence of provocation or aggression on their part leading up to the altercation. In other words, they cannot have instigated the confrontation or engaged in behavior that escalated the situation unnecessarily. Courts typically examine the sequence of events leading to the altercation to determine whether the individual claiming self-defense acted reasonably given the circumstances. If it is found that the person claiming self-defense provoked the altercation or used excessive force in response to a perceived threat, their defense may be weakened.

Reasonable use of force

The defendant must also demonstrate that the force used in self-defense was reasonable and proportional to the perceived threat. This means that the level of force employed should not exceed what is necessary to protect oneself or others from harm. The concept of “reasonable force” is subjective and depends on the specific circumstances of each case. Courts will consider factors such as the nature of the threat, the size and strength of the parties involved, and the potential for serious harm.

While a self-defense claim is sometimes an option in the wake of assault charges, seeking legal guidance is essential to help determine the best approach to executing this defense effectively.