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What legal defenses to assault can you use besides self-defense?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | assault and battery, blog

Arguing self-defense is one of the most common legal defenses to an assault charge. However, there can be other valid reasons for a physical altercation with another person.

Understanding these arguments can make a difference in the outcome of the case, especially when self-defense might not be applicable.

Defense of others

A person may have the right to attack another to protect someone else who appears to be in danger. Like self-defense, this assertion requires reasonable grounds to show that the defended person was at risk of harm. A defendant must also demonstrate that the applied force was necessary to prevent harm to the other person and proportional to the perceived threat.

An instance of duress

The duress defense is possible when a person attacks another because of being under severe pressure or threat. This includes situations where someone forced them to act against their will, perhaps using threats or coercion. To prove duress, evidence is necessary to show that the accused would not have committed the alleged assault otherwise.

A case of necessity

The necessity defense is applicable when a person fights someone to avoid greater harm. For example, if a burglar breaks into a home or vehicle with a weapon, attacking the perpetrator might be the only way to prevent serious harm to oneself or others. This defense can hinge on proving that there were no other viable options to prevent the harm.

Permission or consent

Consent applies when the attacked individual does not oppose the occurrence of the injury-causing act. For instance, some sports involve expected physical contact. Therefore, since bodily harm is a likely part of the activity, the injured person consented by participating.

Establishing consent as a defense also requires demonstrating that the harm was within the boundaries of what a reasonable person would accept or expect. Additionally, the injured person must be of sufficient mental capacity and of the legal age to give consent.

Using these legal defenses can be intricate but worthwhile. A clear comprehension of these strategies may be the key to navigating an assault case toward a favorable ruling.