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Photo Of Kyle B. Sawyer

Charged With A Crime? It Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty.

When does self-defense become assault?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | Assault |

People in Colorado and around the country have a right to defend themselves from harm. A person attacked by an intoxicated, belligerent, or otherwise uncontrollable assailant could use the necessary force to deal with the problem. Responding to an assault with another assault or worse is not self-defense, though. Gray areas may exist where questions arise about whether self-defense crossed a line or the response was appropriate.

Using necessary force for self-protection

Essentially, self-defense refers to using physical force to neutralize impending harm. Upon being physically assaulted by someone attempting a robbery, punching the robber might be a justifiable act. If another person previously caused someone harm, going to that individual’s house four days later and striking the individual isn’t self-defense. Kicking someone already rendered unconscious wouldn’t likely be self-defense, either.

The law spells out rules regarding self-defense. Generally, a person may use a reasonable response to deal with an attack or when believing harm is imminent. Other scenarios may allow someone to use self-defense, such as intervening in a kidnapping or sexual assault. Physically assaulting someone who used harsh words doesn’t factor into self-defense scenarios.

Persons who initiate bodily harm lose any credible claim to self-defense, and those involved with “combat by agreement” might find challenges to claim self-defense claims. Why are these points important? It is because self-defense might serve as the basis for someone’s criminal defense.

Charges filed after a self-defense incident

Self-protection often serves as a defense strategy for someone accused of assault or even homicide. With a self-defense claim, the defendant may admit to punching someone and causing a broken jaw. The reason for doing so involved stopping an attempted rape.

Still, someone claiming self-defense may face serious criminal charges. The prosecutor might outright doubt the incident sincerely involved self-defense. Or, the charges could stem from assessments that the resultant force was not reasonable. Questions about whether the response proved suitable could go to a jury.

What happens when an assailant tells a different story and claims to be a victim? False testimony could complicate a self-defense defense.

Self-defense and assault are starkly different legal terms, but confusion may exist after an incident. An attorney could assist someone facing assault charges after defending him or herself by attempting to show actions were reasonable.