If you have been charged with assault, your entire life may be upended. Serious charges such as these affect both personal and professional relationships and could be contributing factors in child custody cases. Fighting these charges on your own can be overwhelming and complex. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney is a good first step in defending your charges.
Learn the facts of your case
Assault charges differ based on the actions, the intent, and the reasons that the assault occurred. Assault is defined as behavior that threatens another, even without physical contact. If the contact is physical, like a fight, the charge could be elevated to assault and battery. Regardless of the charge, you must have shown deliberate intent to harm or threaten the victim into believing they would be harmed. Research the details of the charges against you.
Tell your story
Sometimes it helps to write down exactly what happened as you remember it. Over time, facts become less clear, so the sooner you can sort through what happened, the better. If there were witnesses to the assault, talk to them if you can. Get their contact information in case your attorney needs to speak with them later. If you are uncertain about why charges were filed, speaking with witnesses or bystanders may help clarify the reasons.
Prepare your defense
To be convicted of assault, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to cause harm to the victim, or acted in a threatening way that made the victim fear they would be physically harmed. Your attorney may work to provide proof that one or more of the elements that comprise assault was not present.
You may also present an affirmative defense, where you admit to assault but prove that you had a good reason to do so. Reasons that an affirmative defense is applicable may be:
1. You acted in self-defense
If you were attempting to protect yourself, assault charges might not be valid. You must prove that you were in fear of harm to yourself with no other reasonable ways to escape the situation.
2. You were protecting someone or something else
This is very similar to the previous defense but applies to a situation where someone else was being threatened or harmed, and you acted to protect that person or persons. You may also prove that you were protecting your personal property, such as your home, from being invaded or damaged.
3. You acted with consent
This usually happens in cases like an arranged fight or match that occurs between two consenting parties.
Lesser-used defenses include acting under duress or necessity or if acting while in a diminished mental state.