It can be difficult for the police to determine who was the instigator in a fight, so it often ends with both of the people involved being arrested and charged with assault. The victim in this instance may be able to use self-defense as a defense against the charges and can end up with the charges against them dismissed. However, they will want to speak with an attorney to find out if this is a valid defense.
When Can Self-Defense Be Used?
Self-defense can be used if a person is defending themselves against bodily harm. In Utah, the person does not have a duty to retreat if they have entered a place lawfully. This means that a person can defend themselves with reasonable force if they are attacked while they are in a place they are legally allowed to be.
When is Self Defense Not a Valid Defense?
Self-defense cannot be used if the person was attacked during the commission of a crime, if they used unreasonable force, if they started a fight verbally with the intent to cause a physical fight, or if they agreed to fight with the person. There are some exceptions to these basic rules, but the person will need to speak with a lawyer to determine if their case falls under one of the exceptions.
Reasonable Versus Unreasonable Force
Reasonable force is defined as the force needed to stop the threat. If a person is attacked, they can stop the attack but must stop what they are doing after the attacker is no longer a threat.
It can be difficult for a person to tell the difference between reasonable and unreasonable or deadly force, which is why they’ll want to contact a lawyer if they’re arrested for the fight. The lawyer can help defend them by showing they did use reasonable force for the perceived threat at the time of the fight.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with assault due to a fight but you were defending yourself, talk to a lawyer about the possibility of using self-defense to avoid a conviction. A lawyer like Aric Cramer can help defend you against the charges your facing and can let you know if self-defense is a valid defense in your case.