Technically, assault and battery are not the same things. Assault involves making threats or invading someone’s personal space, and battery involves directly making violent contact with someone. Legally, however, these charges are often grouped together and penalized similarly.
Ultimately, assault and battery are violent crimes, which can command steep penalties if you are found guilty. If you’ve been charged with either crime, you need a strong defense to help preserve your freedom and reputation.
Here are some common, credible defenses against both assault and battery accusations.
Legally, you have the right to defend yourself against an attack, and depending on the situation, your response can be violent. Tennessee takes this right even further, as it is one of many states with “stand-your-ground” laws.
Before stand-your-ground laws were introduced, a victim was required to retreat from an attack. Philosophically, the law wanted to make sure you took every step possible before responding with violence. Stand-your-ground laws allow you to stand and fight without retreating.
If you believe that you are in danger, you have the right to defend yourself. The belief is enough to justify a violent response, even if you later discover that you weren’t in danger.
You have the right to defend more than just yourself. You can also defend property or another person. If you fight to defend someone else, you legally take the role of the victim. Put simply, you can respond only as if you were the one being attacked.
An act of self-defense must be proportionate to the attack. If you are about to be slapped, you can slap your attacker; if your life is being threatened, you may be able to justify a fatal response.
2. Mutual Combat
Technically, it’s legal for two (or more) people to agree to a fight. If one combatant tries to claim assault or battery later, the other can use the doctrine of “mutual combat” as a legal defense.
Be careful with this defense. Even in a mutual combat scenario, neither party can seriously injure the other. Regardless of the original intent, the result could be a battery charge. If either combatant dies, the other could be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
3. Poor State of Mind
Outside influences can fog your mind and affect your decision-making. For instance, you could suffer a medical issue that makes you irritable and irrational. Perhaps you are on prescription drugs, and you have a poor reaction.
If your judgement was impaired at the time of an assault or battery, you may be able to use this fact to defend yourself in court. In some situations, even claiming you were drunk at the time could free you from a criminal charge.
Do not confuse this defense with an insanity plea. Pleading insanity means the defendant cannot control their actions. Often, an attorney chooses this defense for the defendant, as the defendant cannot make such decisions for themselves. Pleading insanity will not result in freedom. If the court agrees with this plea, the defendant will go to a high-security hospital where they will be tightly monitored and controlled.
If you’ve been accused of either assault or battery, reach out to our firm for help. We may be able to help craft an effective defense for you. Just call (931) 361-4477 for a free consultation, or contact us online.