In Boston, Massachusetts, being charged with assault is almost always a serious offense, and you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. It’s vital that you, and your criminal defense lawyer, get ahead of these charges rapidly. An experienced, professional Boston, or Suffolk lawyer, should review the details of your case immediately to devise a strategy that may help in either reducing your charges or if convicted, the penalties you will incur.
In most cases, your lawyer will look for flaws in the police investigation or conflicting witness accounts that could poke legal holes through the prosecution’s case.
Some of the most common strategies that your lawyer may use are:
- You acted in self-defense, or you were attempting to protect another person.
- You did not act willfully, therefore you cannot be charged.
- You have been wrongfully accused of the attack.
- You could not inflict harm or force on someone else due to a physical limitation.
By far, the most common defense against assault charges is proving you acted in self-defense which usually will allow you to clear yourself of criminal charges. To prove that self-defense was used in a case of physical assault, you must prove that there was a threat of force or harm against you and that you had to act.
In many jurisdictions, provocation can be an effective defense against an assault charge. At the least, it’s dangerous and dishonest to provoke someone into attacking you just so you can attempt to sue them later, but this happens.
Yes, it also may show criminal intent, and the police themselves may be involved in these cases and are often sued for them.
The statutes in Massachusetts can be vague about this charge though, for example, you do not have the legal right to punch someone just because they pushed you. It is against the law to assault someone (hit, push, slap, etc. is an assault and battery). So, at any time you retaliate to get them back, rather than defend yourself, there is potential for you to be charged with assault.
What Are the 5 Interrelated Elements I Must Prove for Self Defense?
There are five interrelated elements necessary to justify self-defense and possibly even using deadly force.
- Innocence – You did nothing to provoke or cause the attack and are innocent of any wrongdoing.
- Imminence – You had justifiable evidence that you are going to be attacked and you or your family could be harmed.
- Proportionality – You used only enough force needed to stop the attack. Importantly, anything more than that would usually not be self-defense but would be a crime. When the threat was stopped, you ceased using force.
- Avoidance – It may be considered your duty to retreat, which means that before using force (or deadly force) you must retreat from the threat if you can do so safely. This, of course, is not always possible but is important.
- Reasonableness – You could reasonably conclude that the attacker could cause you death or serious bodily harm. They may outweigh you by 50 pounds, have been a Marine, studied MMA, or has a known violent nature. Reasonableness includes what you know about an assailant, including their training, violent nature, or background.
It’s important to note that of these five elements, usually the overriding one here, and in most cases, is reasonableness.
You begin to see that the defenses, legalities, and situations in assault cases can be ambiguous and imprecise. So, you must go into court with a professional, well-prepared defense organized by an experienced Boston criminal lawyer.
Can Self-Defense Ever Become “Overkill”, and How?
In legal terms, the limits of self-defense can be crossed when the intensity comes into question and the means it was accomplished.
In other words, if you applied means that were far too brutal or outright unnecessary regarding the circumstances involved, you probably have overstepped the bounds of self-defense. Also, it is stated quite clearly in the law that self-defense is only viable if there’s an imminent danger to you or those around you who you may be protecting.
A simple example would be that an attacker is walking up to you with a knife. You pull a gun out and fire a warning shot. He still comes at you, and you choose to kneecap him. This act is justified since he’s still alive and you applied non-lethal force to incapacitate him. If you incapacitated the attacker and then fired 8 more rounds into them, you probably have crossed the line.
Remember, you have every right to defend yourself, but that right doesn’t extend to blatant murder or sadistic overkill. This is where a competent, experienced violent crime attorney is invaluable to you. Your lawyer is there to show that your actions, no matter how severe, were justifiable due to you, or your families, imminent danger.
What Happens If I Defend Myself Against the Police, A Public Employee, or a Household Member?
There are legal differences that pertain to an assault on a police officer, federal or state employee and others. You can probably understand that assault on a police officer can bring you dire consequences, yet this happens all the time.
In Boston and almost all parts of the country, it’s not uncommon for you to be falsely accused of assault on a police officer. In just a blink of an eye when you confront a police officer, the situation can escalate, and the incident can become chaotic. Police officers may misunderstand your words or behavior and sometimes may overreact.
Your criminal defense lawyer will know how to approach each singular case, and they are all different. Assault on anyone can be defended, but in certain cases, they become much more difficult and legally complex.
I Must Defend Myself Against an Assault Charge in Boston, What Should I Do First?
First and foremost, leave nothing to chance as you could be facing life-changing consequences for yourself and your loved ones. Each case must be diagnosed, evaluated, and professionally presented. Toland Law, LLC has been professionally and successfully representing Boston clients in assault cases for many years. They have the expertise, empathy, and aggressive representation you need. Consult with them immediately, and don’t gamble with your future.