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Man in Defensive Pose

Can You Get an Assault Charge While Defending Yourself?

You’re at your favorite bar when someone taps you on the shoulder. They’re yelling, but you don’t know why. Then they raise a fist. You retaliate and move away. The bartender calls the police, who arrest you for assault. Could this really happen? Can you get an assault charge while defending yourself?

An Uncomfortable Situation

Making a viable self-defense claim starts by establishing a threat, a lack of escalation, and demonstrating that there was no way to leave. An accused person claiming self-defense must reasonably show that they acted because they believed there was a legitimate threat of physical harm to themselves or others.

Additionally, the accused cannot have used excessive force. A key in any self-defense claim is demonstrating that the amount of force used was just enough to stop the threat. Responding with a melee weapon or intent to cause serious harm could undermine a self-defense claim and result in more serious charges.

A Viable Defense

To claim self-defense in an assault charge, you should be able to demonstrate that you took action to prevent unprovoked harm. For example, the scenario above describes a viable self-defense claim.

However, if the prosecution can demonstrate that you escalated the situation either with force or with words, a claim of self-defense is unlikely to stand. It may be difficult in the heat of the moment, but it’s always best to remain calm and avoid yelling and threatening whenever possible.

If you’ve been accused of assault, we are here for you. If you’d like to discuss your case with an experienced Tacoma criminal defense attorney from Hester Law Group to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (253) 300-3034.