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What are some common defenses to assault charges?

Sometimes when a disagreement occurs between two people in New City, things can become volatile, with threats and accusations being thrown around. Nevertheless, assault charges in New York are no laughing matter. In fact, first-degree assault is a felony in New York, meaning there are serious consequences, including the possibility of incarceration and significant fines, for those convicted of this crime. However, what if you feel your actions were justified? Are there any defenses to charges of assault?

In general, there are some defenses to charges of assault. What defenses are available depend on the facts of your case and state law, so it is always important to work with an attorney when preparing your defense. Nevertheless, one can focus on two common defenses to assault: self-defense and defense of others.

One of the most commonly used defenses against assault charges is self-defense. In general, the following factors must be proven for this defense to succeed. First of all, the individual who committed the alleged assault must have been facing a threat of harm or unlawful force against him or her. The accused must also have an honest and reasonable fear that he or she would be harmed. In addition, the accused must not have provoked or harmed the other party. Finally, there must have been no true opportunity to escape. Moreover, the strength of force used against the other party must be reasonable in comparison to the threat the individual faced.

Another defense that might be employed in a case of assault is the defense of others. This has a lot in common with the defense of self-defense. The main difference is that the individual who committed the alleged assault honestly believed that another individual was going to be harmed. Again, this fear must be reasonable, and the strength of the force used against the other party must also be reasonable in comparison to the threat faced.

There are other possible defenses to the crime of assault, including defense of property and consent. However, these defenses are not available in all states, and the extent to which they apply also depends on the state. That being said, applying any defense to a criminal case takes legal skill, so having the representation of a criminal defense attorney is often necessary.

Source: FindLaw, "Assault and Battery Defenses," accessed Aug. 15, 2016

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