Every now and then, a high-profile case ends up in the news about a person who ends up facing charges of assault, or much worse, after defending themselves against an attacker who tried to harm them.
On the extreme end of the spectrum, consider the story of Brittany Smith, a 32-year old Alabama woman being charged with murder after shooting a man she says brutally raped her as he choked her brother, who tried to defend her. She sought protection under Alabama’s Stand Your Ground law, but lost her appeal this past April.
Although less severe than a murder charge, it’s unnerving to find yourself slapped with assault and battery charges after a dispute where you were protecting yourself.
Defending yourself against assault charges has a limited number of options, each of which have their own limitations when used.
For example, you might be able to use a self-defense claim if you were defending yourself from a person in the moment of an attack, but it has to have occurred on the scene directly following the attack, rather than the result of you leaving the scene and coming back to harm the person. You also can’t have instigated the fight.
Another possible route involves defending property or another person. For instance, if you must overtake a person who is attacking another, and in doing so you injure the attacker, you may be able to build a case that you were protecting the original victim of the attack. If someone attempts to mug you and you must physically fight them off, you might be able to leverage both self-defense and property protection as defenses.
Assault charges can feel overwhelming when you were trying to protect yourself or another, but there are legal options meant to protect you in those scenarios. If you’re facing unwarranted assault charges, speak with an experienced defense attorney immediately.
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