As with most criminal charges, being charged with assault doesn't mean a conviction is definite. In fact, while you may find yourself confused and uncertain about how you can defend yourself against these charges, your assault defense attorney won't be. There are actually a few different options for defending yourself against an assault charge, so you need to be completely honest with your attorney about the events leading up to the incident as well as the incident itself. Here's a look at what you need to know as you start considering your defense.
It Doesn't Matter If Any Contact Was Made
Your first thought when considering a defense against an assault charge may be to simply say that you are not guilty because you never actually struck the other party. The fact is that there doesn't need to be any physical contact between you and the other individual for assault charges to qualify. Assault is simply putting the other person in a position where they had reason to believe you were going to do them harm. The simple threat of harm qualifies as assault in most states. If contact was made, then you would likely face assault and battery charges instead.
You May Not Have Instigated It
Sometimes there is a reasonable defense for an assault charge if you were not the one who instigated the situation. If the other party was the one who started the altercation and provoked you to the point where you reacted, you may be able to get the charges dismissed. However, in order for this to be a reasonable defense, you have to be able to show that you had no ability to escape the situation and that your reaction was in an effort to protect yourself. If your actions were solely defensive, not offensive, that can qualify.
You May Have Been Protecting Someone Else
Another sound defense option for an assault charge is one in which your actions were in an effort to protect someone else. In that case, your actions were morally sound. In order to claim this type of defense, you would have to have evidence that the other individual was threatening someone else's safety. It's best if you can have that other party in court with you to testify to that fact, because that provides a chain of evidence to support your story. You would also have to be protecting them against a serious threat of harm—for example, if you were intervening in an assault on someone else or were preventing something similar to that.
It May Have Been An Accident
In order for an assault charge to be valid, there has to be intent. If you had no intention of threatening the other party or striking them, then you may have a defense option. In cases like that, though, it can be very difficult to prove that you were not intending for the situation to happen. You would need to have witnesses who could testify that what happened was, in fact, an accident and not a deliberate action. Similarly, if the presumed threat was misconstrued or misunderstood, having someone there who can testify to that would also help your case.
Being convicted of assault can have far-reaching consequences, not only in the immediate sense of punitive repercussions, but also for your future. Having something like this on your record can affect your ability to rent property, secure jobs, and more. That is why it is in your best interest to seek a skilled defense attorney who can help you present a defense like one of those addressed here. If you can get the charges dismissed or be found not guilty, you won't have to worry about the lasting effects of the situation. Contact a law firm that offers assault crime law services to learn more.