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What are possible defenses against assault charges?

When you've been accused of assaulting someone, defense strategies exist to show you didn't commit the crime, show there are mitigating circumstances that should be considered, or help you reduce the charges for less serious sentencing. While showing that you weren't involved in the crime at all is the best possible defense, if you were involved in a physical altercation and evidence proves it, your next options might include claiming self defense or defense of someone or something.

Today, crimes are often caught on camera or video. With cellphones in almost everyone's pocket, you can bet if you get in a fight in a public location, someone is going to capture part of it on film. That makes it more difficult to defend yourself against assault charges because the proof that you were involved in the fight is right in front of the court.

In these cases, you might have to turn to explaining how and why the fight came about. If you can show that you were not the initial cause of the fight, then you might not be convicted of assault. Were you defending yourself against physical assault that someone else started? Were you protecting someone else against physical aggression?

When someone has presented video evidence against you in an assault case, then you want to make sure the entire video is present if you were defending yourself. If the video is truncated and only shows the end of a fight, it doesn't show how someone else started the action. If video of the beginning is not available, you might have to turn to other surveillance or witness testimony to help make your case.

Understanding how to make a case when you are accused of assault can help you avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Even if your defense doesn't result in a not-guilty verdict, it might allow for a reduction of both charges and sentencing.

Source: FindLaw, "Assault and Battery Defenses," accessed Sep. 04, 2015

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