When can someone accused of assault claim self-defense?

When can someone accused of assault claim self-defense?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2023 | Criminal Defense

There are three general scenarios in which the police might arrest someone in Tennessee based on assault allegations. The best-known definition of assault is the intentional decision to cause physical harm to another person through non-consensual physical contact.

There are two other definitions as well. The state can pursue assault charges when someone intentionally puts someone else in fear for their physical safety or when they engage in physical contact that they know other people would find provocative or offensive, like groping someone of the opposite sex.

One of the more common responses to pending Tennessee assault charges involves raising a claim that someone acted in self-defense. When might a self-defense claim be an option for someone accused of assault in Tennessee?

They experienced reasonable fear for themselves or their property

Tennessee state law offers very clear guidance about the fact that there are situations in which physical force is justifiable. Anyone who believes that they are at immediate risk of harm due to the verbal statements, physical actions or intimidating body language of another party can potentially use physical force to defend themselves.

So long as they are in a location where they have a lawful right to be, the person defending themselves has no duty to retreat before using physical force. If another person would review the details of the situation, such as someone’s posture or the statements they made, and they would also experience a credible fear for their own safety, then the person accused of assault may actually have a reasonable chance of defending themselves against those allegations. Tennessee law also permits the use of physical force when someone wants to protect another person or their property from criminal activity.

How people build self-defense claims

There are many possible sources of evidence that can help someone demonstrate that they acted with an intention to defend themselves rather than a desire to harm someone else. Security camera footage, electronic communications between the parties and even witness statements could all help convince members of a jury and others involved in a criminal trial that the fear someone experienced was reasonable and that their actions aligned with Tennessee state law. The prior interactions an individual has had with someone and even the criminal records of both parties involved could also influence how the courts perceive the situation.

Learning more about the Tennessee rules for self-defense claims can help those who hope to defend against pending assault charges to craft an informed defense strategy.