Assault is one of the most basic and most common violent criminal charges in Georgia. Acts of violence and intimidation can lead to someone’s arrest and prosecution for assault. Technically, it is illegal to even attempt to cause physical injury to others, but there are certain situations in which you can perform actions that technically violate certain statutes without breaking the law.
If you can show that there are special circumstances that compelled you to violate the law, you can raise an affirmative defense. Is it possible to claim self-defense in response to your upcoming prosecution for assault charges?
You can justify your use of force in three different ways
Georgia has relatively robust self-defense laws. You can use an affirmative defense related to the justifiable use of force in three different scenarios. The first and most obvious is when you fear for your own safety. If someone has already hurt you or has directly threatened you, using force to protect yourself from the risk they pose is self-defense under the law.
You also have the right to use appropriate physical force to respond to violence against others. Whether you want to intervene to protect your child or a total stranger, your use of force to protect someone facing an act of physical violence is justifiable under state law. Finally, you may be able to claim self-defense if you use physical force to protect your personal private property.
Are there limitations on self-defense claims?
There are numerous rules that apply to self-defense claims in Georgia. One of the most important is that the person claiming self-defense typically cannot have been the aggressor in the situation. If you hit the other person first and then they hit you back, it does not become self-defense to throw a second punch. However, if the other party physically accosted you first, then you may have justification for defending yourself.
Typically, Georgia does not impose a duty to retreat on those who use force for self-defense, provided that reasonable people would also agree that the use of force was necessary in that situation. Self-defense claims can be a very effective defense strategy when someone faces charges and knows there are witnesses or possibly videos of the altercation. Changing the narrative around the altercation can help you create a reasonable doubt and avoid conviction.
Learning more about the assault laws in Georgia will make it easier for you to defend against allegations that you broke them.