Powerful Advocacy,  Investigation, Negotiation, and Litigation

Was it really assault, or did you simply act in self-defense?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Criminal Law |

Not everyone who has been accused of assault is a hardened criminal. Some people who get arrested for assault in Montana are truly surprised to be charged with wrongdoing. While they don’t deny that there may have been some kind of physical altercation, a defendant may insist that they did not intentionally break the law.

Those who insist that they did not initiate the altercation in question may develop a successful self-defense strategy in response to their charges. Self-defense claims are among the most common responses to Montana assault charges. However, there are certain rules that limit a defendant’s ability to claim self-defense in response to assault charges. As a result, it is important for defendants and their loved ones to understand what determines whether someone acted in self-defense or they violated the law.

If they instigated the situation

When the courts look at someone’s claims of acting in self-defense, what matters the most is often the intention behind their behavior and exactly what happened. The person claiming their actions were intended in self-defense will need to show that a reasonable person would also have felt the use of force was necessary.

If there is proof that someone only responded with physical force after someone else breached the barrier of physical contact or that they responded to clear provocation, like direct threats from the other party, they may be able to defend themselves by claiming they acted in self-defense.

If they had broken the law

Someone who initiates a confrontation or makes another person fear for their safety likely cannot claim that they acted in self-defense. If someone made verbal threats toward another person or put their hands on them during a verbal disagreement, then the courts are unlikely to take a claim that they acted in self-defense seriously.

An individual doesn’t have to commit the first act of violence to be ineligible to raise a self-defense claim. Those who end up in a physical altercation during the commission of a criminal act typically cannot claim they wanted to defend themselves. Trespassing and other legal violations can put someone at elevated risk of a confrontation with another person and may simultaneously strip them of their ability to claim that they acted for their own protection.

Discussing the situation that led to someone’s Montana assault charges with an experienced legal professional can help them determine whether a self-defense claim is an appropriate response to criminal charges given the unique nature of their circumstances.