The People’s Lawyer

What you need to know before claiming self-defense for assault

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2022 | Criminal Defense

You should not take assault and battery charges lightly. You could end up spending considerable time in jail, on top of having to live with a criminal record. If you face such charges, you might think claiming you acted in self-defense is your best bet, but it is not always.

You need to ask yourself several questions before choosing to claim self-defense.

Were you in immediate danger?

A reaction to defend yourself can only occur in the face of imminent danger or risk. If you were not in immediate danger at the time of the alleged assault, your defense might not hold. It could be considered retaliatory action, reinforcing your assault charges.

Was your reaction proportional to the danger or risk?

Your self-defense might not be reliable if your reaction is not proportional. For instance, if someone pushes you and you knife them, a self-defense claim may not hold. In short, your reaction should be equal to the threat or danger you were facing at the time.

Did you have a duty to retreat?

In some jurisdictions, the law requires you to avoid confrontation by retreating from the aggressor. However, under West Virginia laws, you have a right to stand your ground. It means that you are allowed to react proportionally and reasonably to defend yourself.

You do not bear the burden of proof

Like all criminal cases, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond doubt. If you show that your actions were aimed only to defend yourself, then the charges against you may be reduced or even dropped. However, this depends on making wise decisions throughout your trial.