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Can you claim self-defense when facing assault charges?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2022 | Criminal defense

Assault charges could be the result of numerous kinds of interactions. Maybe you got into a fight with someone outside of a business, or perhaps someone who was aggressive toward you accused you of assault after they wound up in the hospital.

When the police arrest you and the state charges you with an assault offense, you are at risk of a sentence that could include jail time, large fines, community service and probation. Defending yourself can help you avoid those consequences, but you will need a viable strategy.

If you cannot provide an alibi or show that you were not the one involved in the altercation, can you claim self-defense?

You have the right to defend yourself and other people

Georgia allows you to use the necessary amount of physical force to protect yourself from a crime or from what a reasonable person would perceive as a threat. If someone tries to hit you or pulls out a weapon, you can take action first to protect yourself. In fact, Georgia does not impose a duty to retreat or to try to leave the situation before you act to defend yourself.

You can also use physical force to protect your property, ranging from your car and your wallet to your home. If someone tries to steal from you or breaks into your home, their crime could be a justification for your violent reaction.

Self-defense claims also apply if you act to protect someone else. If you believe that there is someone about to harm someone else or if you walk into a crime in progress, you have the right to act to defend another person from a criminal.

How do self-defense claims work in court?

When you claim self-defense, you mount an affirmative defense. Essentially, you agree with the prosecution that you did something that is sometimes illegal, but you claim that your behavior was not a violation of the law because of mitigating circumstances. You can show that you were afraid for your own safety and that you are not the one who instigated the situation, you may be able to avoid a conviction by claiming self-defense in criminal court.

Learning about the different laws that apply to Georgia assault charges can help you prepare a defense strategy.