Can You Claim Self-Defense?

Posted on: 24 March 2017

Arguing self-defense in a crime of violence is not uncommon. However, proving that force was needed in an incident can sometimes be challenging. If you plan to argue self-defense, here is what you need to know.  

What Do You Have to Prove?

To claim self-defense, you need to prove that the other person involved was the aggressor and that you believed physical action was necessary to stop a threat from him or her. In addition to this, you have to prove that the amount of force that you used was necessary and reasonable to stop the threat.  

Part of proving that there was a reasonable threat of danger or violence from the aggressor is showing that the threat was imminent. For instance, if the aggressor was attacking you but stopped once you were in a position to defend yourself, your actions might not be seen as justified since he or she had stopped the assault on you.  

Self-defense also does not give you the right to escalate the violence involved. For instance, if the aggressor punches you, you do not have the right to escalate the violence by using a knife or gun to defend yourself.  

What if You Hit the Other Person First?

One of the misconceptions about self-defense is that you can only claim it if the other person physically harmed you first. However, there are some instances in which you can be the first person to strike a blow and still claim self-defense. You can claim that you had to take action to prevent an attack by the other person.  

For instance, if you are involved in a verbal altercation and the other person raises his or her hand to strike you, you could hit him or her to prevent the attack and still claim self-defense.  

The idea is that you felt it was reasonable to believe that the other person was going to attack you and you took action to stop him or her from hurting you. However, it is important to note that a prosecutor could argue that you escalated the violence by striking first. You will need to convince a judge and jury that you were justified in acting.  

Due to the complexities of a self-defense argument, consider consulting with a criminal attorney. Even if your case appears to be cut and dry, you need an attorney to help with planning your defense and gathering evidence. Contact a firm like Villarini & Henry LLP to learn more.


Staying Out Of Trouble

About a year ago, I realized that I was starting to bend the rules a little when I was out in public with my friends. I was really nervous about getting caught, so I started thinking more carefully about what I was doing and why I was doing it. However, one night, I decided to go streaking, and I was arrested. I realized that I needed to work with a criminal attorney to get the help that I needed, and I sat down with them to go over the details of my case. After a long and arduous court case, I had learned my lesson and stayed out of jail. This blog is all about staying out of trouble in the first place and knowing how to prevent problems in your personal life.