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Assault Charges: Can I Claim Self-Defense?

One of the most common defenses used against criminal charges of assault involves alleging self-defense. While many other defense strategies involve denying the assault occurred or questioning whether the elements of an assault are present, self-defense is different in that it affirms that the act of assault was committed but seeks to justify it as a necessary means of combating the assaulted party’s threatening behavior. But under what circumstances is a self-defense strategy valid?

In order to establish a claim of self-defense, the following elements must be present:

  1. You must have been exposed to a threat of unlawful force or harm
  2. You perceived a real, reasonable, and honest fear of harm to yourself
  3. You did not provoke the victim’s aggression
  4. You were unable to retreat or escape the situation

For example, say you were confronted in an alley by Adam, an intimidating stranger, who shouts threats at you and starts running towards you in a threatening manner. Frightened and unable to escape, you punch Adam in the face and run away while he is stunned. In this situation, self-defense would be a valid defense option. Conversely, it would be more difficult to allege self-defense if a physical altercation were to occur after you and Adam bumped into each other and threatened to beat each other up, as it can be argued that you provoked Adam’s aggression.

In addition to these limitations, self-defense doctrines mandate that the use of force used by the defending party must be proportionate to the threat. In other words, you may only use as much force as necessary to stave off the danger. For example, the use of deadly force may not be used if your life is not threatened. Deadly force is allowed to stop a home intrusion in some states, though setting traps to catch a burglar or thief is not permitted.

Powerful Assault Defense in Las Vegas

Regardless of the specifics, accusations of assault are extremely serious matters which require the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney in order to be successfully defended against. If you have been charged with assault, contact our award-winning Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of David R. Fischer today. Backed by numerous positive client testimonials and a “Superb” Avvo Rating for professionalism and skill, we have what it takes to help prove your side of the story and guard your rights against the prosecution’s claims.

Schedule a free case review or call today to get started.