If an individual is charged with assault, there are several defenses that he or she may use to dispute that charge. For instance, it may be possible to claim that an assault was actually an act of self-defense. To prove self-defense, a defendant must show that he or she did not provoke the attack and that there was no chance of retreating from the situation.
It may also be possible to claim that an assault occurred in defense of others. To mount such a defense, the defendant must show that there was a valid threat of harm to another individual. Additionally, many of the elements used to prove self-defense must be met such as establishing that the victim of the assault posed a physical challenge to the defendant. In cases involving an individual who was assaulted was much younger or smaller than the defendant, self-defense or defense of others may not apply.
In some situations, it may be possible to claim that an assault occurred in defense of property. This may be a valid defense if property was being held illegally or if a person's home was a target for invasion. However, the law generally states that an individual cannot use force to retrieve personal property if there is a dispute over who owns the property.
Individuals who have been charged with assault may wish to consult with a criminal defense attorney to determine how to dispute the charge. An attorney may be able to argue that the assault occurred because the defendant was provoked or afraid for his or her life. If successful, it may be possible to negotiate a plea agreement or have charges dropped completely. This may allow a defendant to avoid some or all penalties related to an assault charge such as jail time or probation.