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How to claim self-defense during an assault?

On Behalf of The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford |

Assaults and violent crimes are charged as either felonies or misdemeanors in Gaston County, North Carolina. Depending on the circumstances around the incident, a common defense for assault and battery is self-defense.

Claiming self-defense

The most common defense for assaults and violent crimes is claiming that the defendant was only acting out of self-preservation rather than malice. There are several things a person must show to prove self-defense:

  • An unlawful threat of harm against them
  • A real perceived fear of harm to themselves
  • No provocation on their part
  • No reasonable chance of fleeing the situation

Proving self-defense

A defendant could argue self-defense from a variety of situations. For example, say a person confronts the defendant by shouting and swinging at them. The defendant hits the person and gets away from the situation quickly. During this circumstance, the defendant might argue self-defense successfully because the other person was the aggressor.

In another example, the defendant runs into a person and begins an argument. The defendant threatens the person, and the person threatens the defendant back. The person hits the defendant, and the defendant hits the person back. It’s harder for the defendant to argue self-defense since the defendant escalated the situation.

Limitations of self-defense

Self-defense claims during assaults and violent crimes are common, but there are limitations other than the needed criteria. If a person is using self-defense, then they can’t be too forceful with their attacker. Self-defense asks a person to use force equal to the force of the attacker. The size and age of the attacker matters as well. The defendant can be guilty of assault and battery if they injure an attacker who isn’t a physical threat.

Cases can involve more than just the defendant trying to protect themselves. Along with self-defense, a defendant can claim defense of property. If a person enters their property or takes their property, a defendant can claim defense of property. This type of defense is common during assault cases but hard to prove, so defendants need to supply evidence to back up their version of what happened if they want to avoid a conviction.