Will an assault charge stick if you were provoked or engaged in self-defense? You have a legal right to defend yourself from harm without being charged with a crime. For example, if you felt unsafe or someone attacked you, you may have a valid defense against an assault charge.
However, you may still face assault and battery charges even if someone threatened you. An experienced defense attorney can investigate the facts of your case to determine your best defense.
What Happens if You Defend Yourself in California?
If the court charges you with assault in Los Angeles as a result of either being provoked or defending yourself, you face a very tricky line to walk in the legal sense. This situation becomes challenging because California typically defines assault as touching someone without permission.
Self-defense is usually the tried and true defense to fight assault and battery charges. However, to prove self-defense, a defendant must demonstrate that:
- They reasonably feared another person would use force against or harm them
- The other person made a legitimate threat about using force against or hurting the defendant
- The defendant did not provoke nor threaten to harm the other person
- The defendant could not find any other reasonable way out of the situation
If you legitimately act in self-defense, there are limits on how forceful you can be. For instance, if someone punched you, it would be unreasonable to pull out a pistol and shoot them.Only a response proportional to the objective threat may fall under self-defense.
A criminal defense lawyer from our law firm can determine if the force you used was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
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Was There an Imminent Threat?
A self-defense claim is only valid if you faced an imminent threat. A verbal threat will likely be considered “mere words” in court. Verbal threats are typically not accepted as a justifiable basis for self-defense. Conversely, if someone physically assaulted you, you do have some right to respond.
However, a court will study your case before making a decision about your guilt. There may be additional evidence they haven’t seen yet which proves a threat existed that justified self-defense. If you can prove that you faced an imminent threat to your safety, then a self-defense case will have a much stronger legal footing.
It may be impossible to convince the court to see it that way, so you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in a case like this. Your defense team can review your case and determine if what happened was truly assault, as defined according to California law.
Was There a Reasonable Fear of Harm?
To validate a self-defense case, you must also establish a reasonable fear of harm. If you had already been attacked and suffered bodily injury, you will have an easier time proving that your actions were in self-defense.
On the other hand, if you didn’t experience any bodily harm before initiating physical violence, you may have a hard time proving you had a reasonable fear of harm.
You may face additional obstacles if the evidence you rely on to establish your case is intangible or doesn’t exist. Again, an experienced lawyer can review your case and help you craft a solid defense for your situation.
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Is It Still Assault if You Are Provoked?
Self-defense is often used as a defense when, in actuality, someone simply provoked the defendant. For example, if you lash out at someone after he says, “What are you going to do? Hit me?” It is a provocation, not self-defense. The other party made no attempt to threaten you or physically endanger you.
However, if someone tries to coax you into a bar brawl with them and asks you to step outside the bar to fight, this can be interpreted as them giving you permission to fight them. We can assess your unique circumstances.
Does the Court Consider Provocation a Defense?
Provocation is not a valid legal defense. Even if you prove someone provoked you, the court will not dismiss your case outright.
However, a lawyer may have the charges against you lessened. In addition, an experienced lawyer can advise you about the kind of sentence you may potentially face in claiming provocation.
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What Are Punishments for Assault Charges?
The consequences you face for an assault conviction varies widely, depending on the court you’re before and the details of your specific case.
If, for instance, someone brings a case against you in civil court, you may end up hit with costs and fees associated with damages suffered by the other party. However, if the alleged victim brings a case to criminal court, you may face jail time in addition to other costly penalties.
Some cases end up heard in both civil and criminal courts, which subject the defendant to jail time and the repayment of damages. Our law firm includes criminal defense lawyers who frequently represent clients in both courts. We can advise you on how to proceed for either situation.
Can You Face Battery Charges for Defending Yourself in California?
Assault and battery represent different criminal acts in California. Assault occurs when you touch someone dangerously or offensively; you could face battery charges for causing another person physical harm.
In some cases, you may cause a physical injury to another person as you try to protect yourself. If a violent crimes lawyer can show that you were acting to defend yourself or someone else, you could avoid penalties such as:
- Jail or prison time
- Anger management classes
You could reach out to our team if the court charged you with assault after acting to defend yourself.
What Are Other Defenses to Assault Charges in California?
A lawyer may take steps to show that you touched someone else to defend yourself in California as a defense. However, this strategy represents only one possible way to handle assault allegations.
Your lawyer may argue that:
You Hurt Someone Else by Accident
Accidents represent an unfortunate fact of life, and assault remains a crime of intention in California. If you touch someone without intending to harm or upset them, a lawyer can build a defense based on your actual intentions.
You Were Engaged in a Contact Sport
Sometimes, injuries occur while individuals are playing a sport or engaging in another activity that requires physical contact. In these situations, individuals give implied consent to engage in activity that could lead to injuries.
In some cases, individuals go beyond implied consent and sign waivers stating that they understand the risk of an injury. If you engage in a sport like football or hockey and accidentally hurt someone else in the course of play, you can reach out to a lawyer for help.
Lawyers Review Specific Defenses for Your Charges
Even if the court charged you with assault, you may have several additional defenses at your disposal. Defenses you can use to fight an assault charge in Los Angeles can include:
- Insufficient evidence
- The prosecution cannot prove every element of the plaintiff’s claim
- Defending others or property (within reason)
- Being given consent
You may see defendants on TV crime shows claiming insanity as a defense, but, in reality, insanity is incredibly tough to prove. Lawyers have difficulty with this defense because no one can know what another person thinks, so this is not easy to show.
A successful insanity defense involves showing that the defendant was either insane during the incident at hand or that s/he was insane during the criminal trial. And, if the court finds you to have been insane during either of these times, this does not mean a judge will dismiss your case. Instead of being sentenced to jail, the court can send you to a mental hospital.
The Simmrin Law Group can review the details of your case to help you decide on the best possible defense.
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An assault charge can upend your life, even if the court does not convict you of the crime. However, should you be found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence and an end to your life as you know it. You must establish the exact circumstances around your charges and choose the strongest defense strategy.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have experience helping clients who the legal system has unfairly treated. Give us a call today, and let us review your case and help you get your life back. We can help you decide what to do next without any obligation to retain us.
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