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Is a claim of self-defense the right response to assault charges?

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

A broad assortment of different situations could lead to assault charges in Massachusetts. Sometimes, a discussion at a bar or party ends in interpersonal aggression. Other times, someone feels compelled to step up to protect another person or prevent a crime from occurring. 

Prosecutors in Massachusetts often do not have the whole story but rather just the version of events provided by the individual who suffered injuries in the confrontation. They might then bring assault charges against someone who acted with an intent to defend rather than to harm. 

Is a claim of self-defense a reasonable response to a pending assault charge in Massachusetts? 

People have the right to defend themselves, their property and others

State law extends the right of self-defense to anyone who is in immediate fear for their own physical safety. They can also act for the protection of others or to defend their home or other property during criminal activity. 

For prosecutors to overcome claims that someone acted in self-defense, they would need to prove several things. Generally, they need to prove that someone did not have a reason to fear for their safety. They would also need to establish that they did not make a reasonable attempt to defuse the situation without violence or leave if possible. Finally, they would potentially try to show that someone used an inappropriate amount of force when responding to a threat. 

It can therefore be very difficult for Massachusetts prosecutors to overcome a claim that someone acted in self-defense when developing an assault case. Learning more about self-defense rules in Massachusetts can help those accused of assault and similar violent crimes.


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