Is It Assault If They Hit Me First?
In the realm of the legalities of assault, one question we’re commonly asked is “Is it assault if they hit me first?” This question brings in the topic of self-defense and its legal implications. Understanding the nature of assault and self-defense can help you if you are facing related charges.
What Is Assault?
Assault is an intentional act to put another person in harm’s way. It doesn’t always result in physical injury, but the aggressor must have intended to cause harm or get into offensive contact with the victim.
In this light, a punch, slap, or other action must be intentionally directed at the victim, irrespective of the motive. This means:
- It doesn’t matter if the goal of the aggressor was a joke or to scare the victim
- The aggressor need not have intended to cause harm or be offensive as long as they’ve made contact with the victim
Also, an assault is only regarded as such if there is reasonable apprehension, i.e., the victim has a reasonable belief that the act will cause danger to their life. As such, the victim doesn’t need to prove they feared for their lives, only that they knew that such an act might occur.
If the aggressor and the victim don’t know each other, then the legal standard applies to ordinary people under similar circumstances. However, if they know each other, the lawyer may use this information to determine whether the victim’s response was reasonable.
When Can You Claim Self-Defense?
This means an assault charge won’t stick if you act in self-defense. Any person who reasonably believes that someone poses an imminent threat to their body has a legal right to apply force to protect themselves. A Philadelphia assault lawyer can prove the following:
- You believed without a doubt that you were in imminent danger of bodily harm
- You didn’t have another reasonable way to avoid the situation
- The fear of excessive physical harm was reasonable
- You didn’t provoke the victim
- You were legally present; if you’re trespassing, you can’t claim self-defense
- Your response is proportional to the victim’s actions. As such, you can’t use a deadly weapon like a knife or a gun to defend yourself. If you do, you’ll likely be charged with aggravated assault
It’s important to note that self-defense must not be in retaliation to a confrontation or conflict. If the aggressor stands down after hitting the victim, you can’t punch them back. Also, self-defense won’t hold if you’re the initial aggressor.
On the contrary, you’re held responsible for personal injury inflicted on the victim, even if you didn’t initiate the fight. A criminal attorney in Philadelphia, PA, can help you determine if the force used was necessary and reasonable.
Contact A Criminal Lawyer Today!
If you’ve been charged with assault while defending yourself, proving self-defense in a court of law can be challenging. That’s why you need a legal expert from Brennan Law Offices. Call us today to get the legal assistance you need.