How Self-Defense Laws Can Impact an Assault Verdict

Personal Injury Lawyer

Every state has established self-defense laws which permit people who are threatened to inflict reasonable force against the offender. To help prevent facing a crime for this use of force, it is important to seek counsel from an attorney immediately after a physical altercation. If a person is found to have used force that went beyond the bounds of state laws, he or she may be convicted of assault. For example, a person who was attacked by a stranger can fight back about equally, but cannot use deadly force. The laws for self-defense can get complicated, so we suggest consulting with a member of our legal team for help during your trial.

Making Self-Defense Claims

Claims for self-defense are mainly used in cases where the defendant was accused of committing a violent crime. When defendants make self-defense claims, they are admitting that force or physical violence was used against the attacker, but it was necessary to avoid being hurt or to protect someone else. The amount of physical force used must be reasonably proportional to the severity of the presented threat. The court may ask questions about who started the fight, if the defendant had a way to escape, and whether the level of force was required to ward off the aggressor.

Determining “Reasonable” Force

In general, the defendant can claim he or she used reasonable force in protection of oneself or others. But, what is deemed reasonable varies based on the circumstances of the situation. If the accused used additional force that wasn’t needed to get themselves or others to safety, he or she may be found guilty of assault.

An attorney can understand that in a moment of fear, it can be difficult to respond to a threat while remembering to not use excessive force. When people feel seriously threatened, they may surge into fight or flight mode and have less self-control. Unfortunately, it is the current standing of self-defense laws to use only reasonable force even when at-risk for harm.

Duty to Retreat

In certain states and jurisdictions, defendants may not be able to use deadly force in self-defense if they were able to safely escape from the attack. With duty to retreat, this means a person who was going to be attacked by another but had the chance to leave safely, cannot use deadly force such as a gun and shoot down the aggressor. But, there may be exceptions to duty to retreat. We suggest anyone accused of assault who used deadly force and had no means of escape, consults with an attorney for advice before proceeding to trial.

If you or someone you care about was recently arrested and now faces an assault charge for using self-defense, please contact an attorney without hesitation. As terrifying as it can be to be arrested and faced with a criminal charge, now is not the time to hide away. Call today for quality and strategic legal services.

Source: Personal Injury Lawyer Fort Lauderdale, FL, Needle & Ellenberg, P.A.

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