The police can hold any violent act against you, even one that is completely justified. In our country, you have the right to defend yourself against a physical attack.
Unfortunately, police often make up their minds without knowing the full story. Imagine they arrive on the scene and find one man standing over the other. The man on the ground has a broken nose, and the upright man has a bloody fist. The cops assume that one is the offender, and the other is the victim, and they make an arrest.
Here is a broad overview of how self-defense pleas work in court. The knowledge can help if an act of self-defense results in an assault and/or battery charge.
Qualifications for Justified Self-Defense
The law requires four basic standards for self-defense.
- You Believe You Are in Danger
Imagine it is night, and you are out on the town. You’re walking through an empty side alley, and you see someone running at you from the other side. They are waving a heavy object and yelling, “I’m going to get you!”
In a situation like this, you have the right to defend yourself. It is reasonable to assume that you are in danger. Even if you find out later that this person meant to attack someone behind you, self-defense is justified at the moment.
- The Danger is Immediate
Self-defense pleas work only when the danger is happening at the moment. You cannot, for instance, hunt down someone who has been harassing you and attack them.
- Failure to Act Would Result in Bodily Harm
You would, for instance, have a difficult time claiming self-defense if you punch someone who glitter-bombed you.
- The Act of Self-Defense Must Be Proportionate
If someone slaps you, you may be justified in slapping them back. A punch may call for a return punch. You cannot, however, go overboard with your response. For example, you cannot beat someone senseless after they scratch your cheek.
Other Self-Defense Scenarios
Stand Your Ground
In Virginia, you are not required to run from an attack. You can stand and fight back.
Defense of Others
You are allowed to step in when you see another person being attacked. In this situation, you legally take the role of the victim, as outlined above.
Self-Defense Against Authorities
If police use unnecessary force, you can legally fight back. This scenario is difficult to prove in court, and you will need the help of a good attorney.
The Castle Doctrine
In this situation, you can keep an attacker from entering your home or even your car. You don’t need to be under immediate threat, but you must believe that the other person means you harm.
In all the above situations, the four qualifications explained above still apply.
If your act of self-defense has resulted in unfair battery allegations, contact The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller for help. We can investigate your case and help reveal the truth. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (757) 267-4949.