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4 key elements of self-defense

If you're facing assault and battery charges in Illinois, you may be considering a self-defense claim to show why you should not be convicted. It's one of the most common tactics, as many people feel they were honestly just trying to protect themselves, not trying to start a fight.

If you were not looking to harm anyone and you were just trying to keep yourself or someone else safe, this could work for you. There are four key elements you need to be aware of:

  • You had no reasonable chance to get away without a physical confrontation. For instance, perhaps the person cornered you in a parking garage.
  • That person threatened to harm you or use unlawful force against you. This threat may be verbal, but it could also be made clear in other ways.
  • You did not try to provoke that person or cause harm yourself. If you keep encouraging someone to attack you or insulting and threatening them, it makes it far harder to use self-defense as an excuse if that person finally gives in and strikes you.
  • You honestly thought that you were going to come to harm and you were really afraid. If someone makes an obvious joke and you punch them and then claim it was in self-defense, it may not hold up. If that person makes a serious threat and you know they could harm you -- perhaps that person is larger than you and makes a menacing motion while threatening you -- then you can honestly say you felt afraid and had to protect yourself.

Claiming self-defense does not deny that the actions took place, but it shows that you had no choice and it was not your fault. Make sure you know all of the legal options you have when facing criminal charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Assault and Battery Defenses," accessed May 25, 2018

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