Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer Jay P. Mykytiuk talks about the possible defenses used in an assault case.
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There are several defenses available to a defendant who is charged with assault. A very common one is self-defense, meaning that the defendant was actually involved in a fight and perhaps threw a punch or pushed someone, but the defense was that they were justified in their actions, that when they fought back, they felt at that moment that they were in danger of imminent bodily harm. And the law allows someone to defend themselves when they feel that they’re going to be harmed. The same defense applies when you’re helping someone else. It’s called defense of others. If you see someone, whether it’s someone you’re related to, whether it’s someone you have a relationship with, or it’s a total stranger, if you believe that they are in imminent bodily harm, the law allows you to fight back to protect them. There is also mistake or accident as a defense. If you strike somebody or hit somebody or shove somebody by mistake and it was not your intent to do that, that’s not an assault. Assault has to be a willful act that you tend to make. And finally, a defense is that you simply were not the person that committed the assault. People in bar fights, in fights that happen outside on the sidewalk often involve lots of people, and sometimes the witnesses simply get it wrong and they misidentify the person that was involved in the fight. And if a defendant was there but didn’t enter the fray and didn’t throw a punch, then they aren’t guilty of anything, and so that is also very common defense to an assault charge.