Not everybody who defends themselves in court claims they did not commit a crime. In fact, many people who plead not guilty claim they may have had legal cause to commit a crime, including assault.
In cases like these, defendants rely on their attorneys to protect their rights in court by building an affirmative defense during trial. Assault is one of those crimes that can be difficult to challenge in court, but an affirmative defense is often helpful.
What Is an Affirmative Defense in an Assault Case?
An affirmative defense is a claim that while the defendant did not commit the crime he or she is accused of, the actions should be justified or excused. When you plead not guilty and use an affirmative defense, you are mitigating the potential consequences of being convicted of a crime.
These affirmative defenses do not always lead to a not guilty judgment, but they can lessen your sentence in some cases. For example, instead of spending 30 days in jail, the judge could sentence you to community service or a fine.
What Are the Types of Affirmative Defenses for Assault Cases?
Assault is a crime for which you may use a variety of affirmative defenses to support your claims. As you work with an attorney, you can gather evidence to bolster your argument. Videos, photos, and witness testimony support your affirmative defense.
Intoxication by drugs or alcohol is not an excuse for a crime, but it can serve as an affirmative defense when the intoxication was not voluntary. For example, somebody may have spiked your drink, leading you to act in a more aggressive manner. In fact, if you were drugged, you may have been the victim of a crime as well.
If you committed a crime under duress, you can also use this claim against assault charges. Duress means that you were forced to act due to pressure or a threat. Perhaps you felt you were in danger, so you had to act with violence to get out of the situation. Perhaps you punched or restrained another person because he or she assaulted someone in front of you, for example.
Mistake of Law
Mistake of law is a possible defense, though attorneys are typically careful about using ignorance of the law as an argument. For example, you may not have known that walking up to somebody and pushing them can qualify as assault. In fact, many people do believe assault must cause grievous bodily injury, but touching another person could be enough for an assault conviction.
You can defend yourself against assault by claiming the whole incident was a misunderstanding or accident. The defendant could have made a mistake that any reasonable person could have made, resulting in reasonable actions he or she performed.
For example, a man could claim you punched him, but video evidence might show that the contact was accidental if you were pushed into his proximity.
What Should You Do If You Are Accused of Assault?
The first thing you should do if you are accused of a crime is contact a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney helps you build the strongest defense possible, whether it is affirmative or a claim you did not commit assault, at least purposefully.
Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, offers criminal law services to individuals in Illinois. If you have been accused of assault and want to use an affirmative defense, schedule a consultation with us today. We can ensure you have strong legs to stand on in court, no matter what level of assault the court charges you with.