When faced with a threat, people typically react in one of two ways: they either fight and confront the threat or retreat. But what happens when someone knowingly provokes you and causes you to retaliate? Even if you believe that you were acting in self-defense, there is a chance you could face assault charges.
What do Georgia courts consider assault?
Simple assault in Georgia involves the intentional attempt to harm another person or doing anything that gives someone reason to believe they will be harmed. Even if you did not pull the first punch, you could still be committing assault for knowingly hitting the aggressor to cause them harm.
Stating self-defense is one way to defend yourself, but there are conditions that must be present.
When does self-defense apply?
A derogatory word or a misunderstanding can quickly escalate into a physical altercation. Naturally, you should be able to protect yourself when in danger. However, self-defense laws in Georgia can be complex.
Georgia adheres to the Stand Your Ground principle, which allows citizens to retaliate with force if they perceive an imminent threat with no duty to retreat first. Put another way, you can fight back when someone hits you without making an effort to avoid conflict.
Furthermore, self-defense only applies if you used reasonable force when responding against the assailant. For instance, the use of deadly force, such as stabbing with a knife in response to a push might land you criminal charges.
The context of the situation also plays a role in justifying self-defense. If the court determines that you were the initial aggressor or provoked the fight, it may become impossible to claim self-defense.
Penalties for a simple assault conviction may include prison time and monetary fines. A charge, however, does not constitute a conviction. You still have an opportunity to prove your innocence. Having competent legal representation on your side can make a difference in your defense strategy.