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When can someone claim self-defense if accused of assault?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Assault and battery cases can lead to jail time, large fines and an embarrassing criminal record that could haunt somebody for life. People in Virginia get arrested for assault and battery in many different circumstances.

Sometimes, police officers show up after an altercation and end up reaching the wrong conclusion. The party who may have actually been the instigator manages to convince the officers that they were a victim, and the person who simply wanted to defend themselves ends up arrested in facing assault and battery charges.

These people may then need to prove they didn’t actually act with the intention to harm someone else in criminal court. When can someone facing Virginia assault and battery charges potentially raise the claim that they acted in self-defense?

People must have a reasonable fear for their immediate safety

Self-defense claims are an affirmative defense to assault and battery charges. The person accused effectively claims in response to the charges that they did engage in violence but were within their lawful right to do so.

Someone who has already endured a physical attack or who reasonably believes that another person is about to harm them can engage in an act of physical violence to protect themselves. Establishing what actually happened and proving that the person accused of assault simply wanted to defend against a crime can be a challenge.

Both parties involved in the situation will probably have their own version of events. Statements from witnesses, medical records of the injuries incurred by both parties and even security camera footage could play a role in establishing who was actually the initial aggressor in the situation. If a person made seemingly credible threats against someone else or initiated physical contact, the actions of the person accused might technically constitute self-defense under Virginia law.

The decision to claim that one acted in self-defense is only one of many potentially effective defense strategies that those accused of assault and battery in Virginia could use during their criminal trial. Reviewing the circumstances that led to someone’s arrest and prosecution may help them develop a workable defense strategy based on the evidence that the state has and the charges they face.

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Attorney Harvey S Lutins