Does an assault charge hold up if you were provoked or engaged in self-defense? You have a right to defend yourself under certain circumstances and not be charged with a crime. If you felt threatened or were attacked, you may have a strong defense against your assault charges.
However, even if you were under threat, you may still face assault and battery charges. An experienced defense attorney can investigate the circumstances around your case and determine the best defense to mount in court.
Acting in Self-Defense
If you’re charged with assault in Los Angeles as a result of either being provoked or defending yourself, this is a very tricky line to walk in the legal sense. This is because assault is typically defined as touching someone without their permission.
Self-defense is the go-to defense in most assault and battery cases. However, in order to prove self-defense, the defendant must be able to show:
- That they reasonably feared that the other person was going to use force against or hurt them
- That the other person made a legitimate threat with regard to using force against or hurting the defendant
- That the defendant did not provoke nor make the other party fearful in any way
- That the defendant could not see any other reasonable way out of the situation
If you legitimately act in self-defense, there are limits as to how forceful you can be. For instance, if someone throws a punch at you, it is not reasonable to take out a pistol and shoot them. Your response must be proportional to the objective threat.
An experienced lawyer like those at the Simmrin Law Group can evaluate your case and see if the force you used was reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances.
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Was There an Imminent Threat?
Self-defense is only valid if the defendant faced an imminent threat. If someone says something to you that you interpret as a threat, a court will likely consider them “mere words.” These are typically not sufficient to be a justifiable basis for self-defense. On the other hand, if you were physically assaulted, you do have some right to respond.
However, a court will examine the circumstances of your case before coming to a decision as to your guilt. There may be evidence which they have not seen that can prove a threat did exist that was sufficient to justify self-defense. If you can prove that there was 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, which is why you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in a case like this. The lawyer can review your case and determine whether what happened was truly assault, as defined by California law.
Was There a Reasonable Fear of Harm?
In order to have a valid self-defense case, you must also establish that you had a reasonable fear of harm. If you had already come under attack and suffered bodily harm, then you will have an easier time proving that your actions were in self-defense.
On the other hand, if you didn’t suffer any physical harm before engaging in physical violence, you may have a difficult time establishing that you had a reasonable fear of harm. This is especially true if much of the evidence you rely on to establish your case doesn’t exist. An experienced lawyer can review your case and help you craft the right defense for your situation.
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Self-defense is often used as a defense when, in actuality, the defendant was just provoked. If you hit someone after he says, “What are you going to do? Hit me?,” it is provocation, not self-defense. The other party made no attempt to threaten you or put you in physical danger.
However, if someone tries to coax you into getting into a bar fight with them, and asks you to step outside the bar in order to fight, this can be interpreted as them giving you permission to fight them.
Provocation is not a valid legal defense. Even if you are able to prove you were provoked, your case will not be dismissed outright. However, you may be able to have the charges against you lessened. An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you of the kind of sentence you may potentially be facing in claiming provocation.
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Punishment for an Assault Charge
The punishment you will face upon being convicted of assault varies widely, depending on the court you’re before and the details of your particular case.
If, for instance, the case is brought in civil court, you may be hit with costs and fees associated with damages suffered by the other party. However, if the case is brought in criminal court, then you may be facing jail time in addition to other, costly penalties.
Some cases are brought in both civil and criminal courts, which subject the defendant to both jail time and the repayment of damages. Our law firm is composed of criminal defense lawyers who are frequently representing clients in both courts. We would be able to advise you on how best to proceed in either situation.
Defending an Assault Charge
Even if you have been charged with assault, you may have several defenses at your disposal. Valid defenses against an assault charge in Los Angeles can include:
- Insufficient evidence
- The prosecution’s inability to prove each element of the plaintiff’s claim
- Defending others and/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 actually incredibly tough to prove. This is because no one can really know what another person is thinking, so this is not easy to show.
A successful insanity defense involves being able to show that the defendant was either insane during the incident at hand, or that s/he was insane during the criminal trial. And, if you are found to have been insane during either of these times, this does not mean your case is dismissed. Instead of being sentenced to jail, you will instead be sentenced to a mental hospital.
The Simmrin Law Group can review the details of your case in order to help you decide on the best possible defense.
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An assault charge can upend your life, even if you aren’t convicted of it. Should you be found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence and an end to your life as you know it. That makes it vital to establish the exact circumstances around your charges and to choose the most viable defense strategy.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have experience helping clients who have been unfairly treated by the legal system. Give us a call today, and allow us to 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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