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When is violence considered self-defense?

There are many ways that a disagreement can lead to a physical altercation, but not all of them are treated equally in the eyes of the law. While the law generally frowns upon acts of violence, it does allow individuals to act in self defense or in the defense of others, as long as the circumstances meet certain standards. Self defense or the defense of others is the most commonly used defense against assault charges of many kinds.

In order to qualify as legally justifiable self-defense, an act of violence must meet a number of conditions. First, the individual who acts in self-defense must actually perceive a threat and be able to justify this perception. A person cannot generally shoot first and claim self-defense after the dust settles. Second, a person must demonstrate that he or she did not provoke the threat. Third, a person must demonstrate that there was no reasonable chance to flee the altercation.

If you face an altercation that meets these criteria, you may have a justified case of self-defense. Different states also maintain different statutes that govern what is and is not self-defense, and these laws can vary greatly. If you believe that you acted in self-defense, but now the other party is pressing charges, you may have to back up your claims in court.

You could benefit greatly from the careful, professional guidance of an attorney. A legal professional with experience defending individuals against assault allegations can help you examine the details of your altercation and build a strong case for self-defense to fight the charges and protect your rights.

Source: Findlaw, "Assault and Battery Defenses," accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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