If you have been charged with assault, there are several effective defenses you can raise. In addition, you may be able to offer mitigating evidence to reduce the level of the charge.

Under the California Penal Code, an assault is an unlawful attempt to cause a violent injury of another person, combined with an ability to do so. This is at minimum a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail. However, if the victim suffered or was likely to have suffered a serious bodily injury, the crime is charged as a felony, carrying a prison sentence of up to four years.

Although the law generally dissuades people from resorting to physical violence, it also recognizes that certain situations may justify violence. Self defense, defense of others and defense of property are three such examples.

If you have to resort to physical action or violence to defend yourself from physical threats, you can claim self defense. To use this defense, you must demonstrate that your actions were reasonable, necessary and not the instigating event. The danger to you must also be imminent, which is to say immediate and not a vague, future threat.

If you acted in self defense, you also need to show that your actions were reasonable and only necessary as far as limiting the danger. For example, you’re walking down a street and someone tries to grab you. If you shove them and run away, that would likely be considered reasonable and necessary. If you punch them repeatedly until they are unconscious, you’ll have a harder time making a claim of self defense because you exceeded what was necessary and reasonable.

You also must show you did not instigate or provoke the initial attack. Taking the above example, you’re the person who tried to grab someone and you were pushed to the ground. As the other person is running away, you grab their leg and trip them. You cannot claim self defense because you instigated the assault.

Similar to self defense, you can also claim you were defending another person. This person could be a family member, friend or even a stranger who needed help. You must show that you believed the other person was in imminent danger and that your actions were reasonable, necessary and not the instigating event.

You may use reasonable and necessary force to defend your property. Both real estate and personal property, such as jewelry, qualify under this defense.

If you’ve been charged with assault, a qualified legal team can help you to determine which legal defenses may be available to you. You want to make sure you have the strongest possible case when facing criminal charges.

If you or a loved one is facing assault charges, contact the Roseville, California firm of Strategic Law Command. We can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong defense. Call us at 916-787-1234 or contact us online.