If you have been charged with assault and battery, claiming self-defense seems like the most sensible thing to do. Anyone is expected to defend themselves in the face of danger or risk to their life. However, there is more to a self-defense claim in your assault charges, given that it could affect the direction of your trial.
Usually, some aspects of your self-defense claim will come into play, as detailed below.
Was there an immediate threat?
You can only claim self-defense if you react to an imminent threat. For instance, you cannot say you were defending yourself, yet you acted way after the danger had passed. That could be considered a retaliatory attack rather than self-defense.
In addition, you need to have perceived harm. If a reasonable person would have felt an immediate threat to their safety, your self-defense claim may hold.
Was your response proportional to the threat?
If you were defending yourself, your reaction to the threat should be equal to the danger you were facing. If you go overboard, it may weaken your self-defense claim. For example, if someone shoves you in the street, and you react by badly beating them up to a pulp, it may question your real motive besides defending yourself.
The duty to retreat does not apply to your case
The duty to retreat may affect your self-defense claim. However, in Montana, you do not have to make an attempt to avoid the threat before using force as long as you are in a place lawfully.
If you’re charged with a violent crime and self-defense played a part, make sure that you fully discuss all your defense options.