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Attorney Christopher T. Adams

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What is required to plead self-defense to criminal charges?

Not many Georgia residents will stand by when someone threatens them with harm. In fact, it is often natural for a person to experience the sensation of “fight or flight” when faced with potential danger. If a person does not believe that they can outrun the threats to their safety they may be forced to face down their attacker and defend themselves.

It is an unfortunate reality, though, that in some cases individuals are charged with assault, battery or other crimes when all they were doing was trying to protect their own security. When facing a criminal charge a person may be able to use a self-defense strategy to overcome the legal challenges to their freedom.

Self-defense claims are appropriate when a person faces an imminent, reasonable threat to their safety. For example, if an aggressor states that they are going to beat another person and pulls back their hand in a fist, the individual who is threatened may have a very reasonable belief that they are in imminent danger. The person who is under attack may offer a proportional response to their attacker to attempt to stop or deter them from continuing their advance.

Not all responses to an attack will meet the requirements of pleading self-defense. A person who is threatened by another who then starts to walk away may not attack the individual who threatened them and claim self-defense as there was not imminent danger to their safety. Individual cases of self-defense should be discussed with criminal defense attorneys for assessment; as with all of the posts on this blog, the contents of this article do not offer legal advice.


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