Can I claim self-defense if I hit someone first?
Who bears the responsibility for the damage resulting from a conflict that becomes violent? At times, the distinction can be clear-cut, but occasionally it gets hazy. If someone attacks someone else out of fear of being attacked themselves, what occurs? If you hit someone first, are you still eligible for a self-defense claim?
The answer is, Yes.
Even though it’s not a common way to defend yourself against assault and battery charges, hitting somebody before they hit you can be a legal defense. Usually, you should think that you are in danger of getting hurt. If you think hitting first is the only way to avoid harm, you can protect yourself even before any harm happens.
Let’s say someone scared you from across the street. They swore to come and hurt you from your opponent’s side. You notice that as you try to cross the road, the people walking toward you are much bigger than you, and there isn’t any place to escape. You must go fast and attack them first; when they are still weak, you can run away quickly. If you thought the threat was real and believed you would get hurt if you didn’t defend yourself, you can argue that you had no other option but to fight back.
Your self-defense must meet reasonable standards for it to be legally justified. Implies:
- You were at risk of immediate harm, such as death, injury, sexual assault, or robbery.
- Imminent risk of harm to those nearby, including fatality, injury, sexual assault, or theft.
- Force was necessary to resist this danger.
- Only the essential force was applied to protect oneself or another.
According to the law, some states only permit using force as a final option. You must retreat legally, if feasible. California is a “stand your ground” state. You are not obligated to withdraw from your attacker before defending yourself with force. Act in any necessary way to protect yourself or someone else in the case of imminent danger.
Once the attacker is subdued or knocked out, you cannot use force anymore. Your safety or the person under your protection is assured beyond that point. Consequently, you could face charges of assault or battery should you persist with your attack.
Charged with Assault
Self-defense is frequently used to refute allegations of assault or similar forms of aggression. It only makes sense to defend yourself in the face of a potential threat to ensure your safety from harm. Be careful because this situation could quickly turn into a dispute over who started the altercation, and your attacker might try to rewrite the account to suit their side by claiming you were the one who started it. The outcome of your case in situations like these depends on hard evidence, any physical harm sustained, any missing property that they might have stolen, or eyewitness accounts. You can present character witnesses who can attest to the relative lack of aggression and violence displayed by you and your attacker to bolster your defense.
The knowledge and skill of the legal team you retain to fight the allegations against you form the basis of a solid defense strategy. Although you have a right to a public defender, you should be aware that they frequently have an excessive caseload, leaving them with little time and money to devote to your case.
Is Provocation Considered a Defense by the Court?
The excuse of provocation is not considered a legitimate defense within a legal setting. Even if provocation can be proven, it cannot automatically lead to the court immediately dismissing your case. This is not a guaranteed outcome.
A lawyer can reduce the severity of the charges being brought against you. In addition, it is essential to note that seeking advice from a qualified attorney with expertise in this area can be beneficial as they can assist in outlining the potential consequences of claiming provocation.
Legal Restrictions on Lawsuits
It’s easy to figure out when to sue someone for hitting you. Hitting someone first makes you ineligible to sue. This remains true no matter what someone says to incite you. You cannot hit someone for their words unless they pose an immediate physical threat, and you defend yourself with rational actions. If someone hits you back after you strike first, and they acted in defense, you cannot charge them. If you started a fight, someone can charge you.
- Related Articles:
- What Is a ‘Self-Defense’ Defense in Criminal Law?
- California Self-Defense Laws: Can I Be Arrested For Self Defense?
- How to Prevent or Defend Yourself against Jugging Crimes
- Crime in Los Angeles Jumped in 2022 – Second Year in a Row
- By Law, How Much Force Can I Use in Self-Defense?
Need an Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.