Under both Tennessee and federal law, it is illegal to commit an act of physical violence against another person. A physical altercation could lead to allegations of assault, while an incident involving a weapon might result in homicide charges.
Those accused of violent offenses in Tennessee face life-altering criminal penalties. Mounting a rigorous defense is the best way to reduce your chances of incarceration and a criminal record that will limit every opportunity you have in the future.
For those who cannot deny their involvement in an altercation, an affirmative defense may be a viable defense strategy. In a self-defense claim, you admit that you did something that would otherwise be against the law, but you claim to the courts that you had legal justification for your actions. What three kinds of behavior may qualify as self-defense under Tennessee state law?
Acting to protect yourself
When someone threatens you or initiates physical contact and hurts you, you have the right to protect yourself. You can use the amount of force that you believe is reasonably necessary to protect yourself or leave the dangerous situation.
Provided that you were not the one who instigated the altercation, you can potentially claim self-defense when you needed to protect yourself from a serious threat.
Acting in defense of others
If someone attacks your spouse or children, you can take immediate action to protect your loved ones. In fact, you can claim self-defense when you engage in an act of physical violence to protect a total stranger.
Whether you intervene in a robbery in progress at the local corner store or break up a fight outside of a bar, your physical violence may have legal justification if your intent was to protect someone.
Trying to protect your property
Criminals don’t just attempt to hurt people. They may try to take property that does not belong to them or damage another person’s property maliciously. If someone tried to steal your vehicle or break into your home to burglarize it, you can potentially use physical force to defend your property from criminal activity.
Unlike other defense strategies, claims of self-defense will not require an alibi or a way to challenge evidence but will instead focus on the circumstances leading up to the violence and your fears and thoughts at the time of the altercation. Learning more about the possible defense options when you face allegations of a violent criminal act can lead to a successful defense against those charges.