R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Questions to ask about self-defense

You get arrested on assault charges after a fight. You claim it was just self-defense. After all, you know you have a right to protect yourself from harm.

You do have that right, but making this claim does raise some interesting questions. These include:

  • Did you use the sufficient and appropriate amount of force? How do you even determine such a thing?
  • What could constitute excessive force?
  • If you could have escaped the violence without fighting, should you have done that? Do you have any obligations in this regard?
  • Did you do anything to entice the other person to attack you? Even if you did not act in a physical manner toward them, will your actions factor into the case?
  • Was there actually a threat, or did you just think there was? If you make a mistake in judgment, what will that mean?

The answers are different for every case, of course. Excessive force could mean using a weapon when one was not used against you. Actions that could provoke an attack may include verbally assaulting the other person before they took the next step and turned it into a physical altercation.

While the basics of the case may seem straightforward -- someone else attacked you, and you defended yourself -- you can see that it actually gets to be a lot more complex than that. The answers to these questions can have quite an impact on your future. Make sure you know exactly what legal rights you have and what steps you can take when facing serious charges and potential jail time.

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