It is against the law to engage in acts of interpersonal violence in California that aren’t defensive in nature. Those accused of intentionally harming another person often face criminal prosecution. Assault charges can easily follow a physical altercation, and someone convicted of committing an assault could face very significant personal penalties.
The state defines any attempt to cause physical harm to another person, should someone have the ability to actually harm them, as an act of assault. The possible penalties if someone pleads guilty include up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. An offender will also have a criminal record that will make them look dangerous to prospective employers and other parties that perform background checks.
Those accused of the inappropriate use of force may hope to defend themselves from acquiring a criminal record that could affect everything from their employment to their rental housing options. One possible way of defending against assault allegations involves raising a claim that one acted in self-defense. What are the rules for self-defense claims in California?
A defendant asserting self-defense must have perceived an imminent threat
No one should have to endure violence or criminal actions by another person without having the option of defending themselves. Those in California who, due to previous physical contact or threatening words, truly believe that they are at imminent risk of physical harm can use force to defend themselves. Those who fear for their safety or the safety of others can use an appropriate degree of force to stop the perceived threat.
In fact, California even permits the use of lethal physical force to defend one’s person or one’s home should someone believe that the threat they face is significant enough to justify such violence. Those attempting to raise a self-defense claim generally need to be able to show that another reasonable person would also feel there was a credible threat in the same situation.
Successful self-defense claims can help someone avoid a criminal conviction and might even lead to the state investigating and prosecuting the other party involved in the incident. Considering every option for defending against depending assault charges can be very important for those who don’t want their lives forever limited by one negative interaction.