If you have been charged with assault but feel as though you were acting purely in self-defense, then you want to discuss your defense with an assault attorney. There are certain aspects of self-defense that you may want to understand first. Keep reading to learn how the defense may or may not be applicable to your situation.
A Threat Must Be Imminent
Self-defense describes the actions taken by an individual to justify a reasonable amount of force taken to protect themselves from harm. However, you cannot simply claim self-defense in a situation and indicate that you felt threatened. An imminent threat must be present. Typically, the threat must be an action or verbal language that indicates that someone is going to hurt you.
For example, if an individual swears at you, then this is not considered a threat of bodily harm, unless they say they are going to hurt you, murder you, shoot you, or do something else that cause serious injury or death. Also, if this does happen, then you must make a reasonable effort to get away from the individual or to contact the authorities for assistance.
In some cases, a verbal threat is not enough to justify physical harm to another person. A reasonable person must feel that the threat is imminent. For example, if the "threat" is obviously a joke, like if someone laughs and says they are going to kill you after you throw a water balloon at them, then this obviously is not a threatening situation that requires any force. Also, even if a threat is intended, if the person is physically unable to harm you, then this does not require force.
Force Must Stop After The Threat Is Gone
You can only really claim self-defense if you are using physical force to disarm or eliminate the fearful situation. You cannot continue to use force once the danger has passed. This can quickly turn a self-dense situation into one where assault charges are filed. For example, if someone starts to charge at you after threatening physical harm, you can often hit that person to reduce the threat. However, if the person falls on the ground, you cannot start kicking them in the head.
Once again, if you are able to flee, you must do so. In cases where additional force is used, your assault charges may be reduced based on your actions of self-defense, but they are unlikely to be dropped completely.
To learn more about self-defense and whether or not you can claim that you were acting to prevent bodily harm, please contact and speak with an assault attorney at a law firm like Pollack & Ball LLC.