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Can a self-defense claim hold water against assault charges?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Claiming self-defense when charged with assault seems like a sure way out of your legal predicament, but how viable is it? The answer to that depends on the particulars of your case; it might prove effective or not. Here is what you should know about.

The law in Georgia does not require you to back down or retreat before using force if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent harm. You can stand your ground and defend yourself or your property. However, there are certain limitations to this, as explained below.

When the use of force in self-defense is justified

First, you must have a reasonable belief that you are in danger. In other words, you must have genuinely perceived an immediate threat to yourself or others to justify your actions. Additionally, the threat must be imminent or likely forthcoming. You cannot claim self-defense if you used force before or way after the perceived threat had passed.

Your use of force must also be relative to the level of threat faced. For instance, your self-defense claim cannot stand if you used deadly force on a relatively minor threat. You can only use deadly force only if it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to you or others.

It is also worth noting that being the initial aggressor considerably weakens your self-defense claim although it depends on the prevailing facts.

Self-defense is an affirmative defense

Raising a self-defense claim means admitting the use of force but arguing that it was justifiable or necessary to protect yourself or others. As such, you carry the burden of proof in showing how your actions were a reasonable response to the situation.

Successfully asserting self-defense against assault charges demands a strategic approach and a thorough examination of the circumstances of your case. It underscores the need for legal guidance to help you present a compelling argument that will increase the chances of a favorable outcome.