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What differentiates assault and battery from self-defense?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2023 | assault and battery

In North Carolina, it is illegal to make unwanted or aggressive physical contact with another person. The state can charge someone with assault and battery for hitting, shoving or otherwise injuring someone else.

However, not everyone accused of a violent offense actually intended to hurt someone else. Many people only become physical when they feel they must defend themselves or others. Can someone accused of assault and battery in North Carolina defend against those allegations by claiming they acted in self-defense?

North Carolina laws around self-defense

Like most states, North Carolina has statutes specifically describing what constitutes self-defense. Typically, people have to fear for their safety, and there must be a clear reason for their fear. Another reasonable person would have to agree that a situation that seemed to put someone at risk of bodily injury or other criminal activity.

Additionally, state law restricts how much force an individual uses. People should only employ as much force as is necessary to protect themselves. The more pressing the threat is, the more force someone could reasonably use. Those in public spaces, however, sometimes have to attempt to leave a situation before escalating it if they intend to act in self-defense. Such efforts are not necessary at someone’s home, in their vehicle or at their place of employment to avoid criminal charges.

A person claiming to have acted in self-defense typically also needs to show that they did not instigate the situation, commit a crime or trespass prior to defending themselves. Having experienced legal guidance can help someone determine if a self-defense strategy is an appropriate response to assault and battery charges.