Everyone has the legal right to protect themselves from harm if they believe they are in danger. If you believe that someone is about to hurt you, you can use force to protect yourself, even if that force would be considered unlawful assault under other circumstances. However, in too many situations, people who exercise self-defense often end up in handcuffs and facing criminal charges for assault1 or even for manslaughter2 if the other party died from their injuries.
Few things are more terrifying than being wrongfully accused of a crime. The good news is that anyone in this position has the right to present legal defenses to fight against their charges, including self-defense. Not everyone can claim self-defense, however, as there are strict legal requirements to do so.
Someone Else was the Aggressor
In most cases, you cannot start a fight and then later claim self-defense for using force. Instead, you must prove that someone else started the conflict and you were the victim. One exception to this rule occurs if you start a confrontation and then withdraw or leave the situation and then the other person comes after you. In that case, they would be considered an aggressor even if you initially started the fight.
Threat of Imminent Harm
In order for you to able to protect yourself, you must fear that harm is imminent. This can include verbal threats, but a reasonable person must think that those threats were strong enough that they would fear immediate harm. If too much time has passed after a threat, you may lose the right to claim self-defense.
Force Used was Reasonable
Finally, you may only use force needed to stop the harm that you fear. For example, if someone pulled out a gun and you feared for your life, you would be justified in using deadly force to stop them. However, if someone just swings a punch at you, you would not be justified in shooting them dead.
Contact a St. Petersburg Assault Defense Attorney for Assistance
If you have been charged with assault or manslaughter after defending yourself, you need a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer handling your case. Presenting self-defense can be legally complex and you do not want to risk being wrongfully convicted when you were just trying to protect yourself. Please call the skilled defense team at Khonsari Law Group at 727-269-5300 to discuss your situation today.