In Utah, you are allowed to protect yourself and your family by physical means. However, the difference between assaults may not always be as transparent as simply saying, “it was in self-defense.” Regardless of how justifiable your actions may seem, police can impose an assault charge based on their discretion. It comes down to what the law deems as “reasonable” in your response to violence or the threat of violence. This is judged on a case by case basis, and those looking for clear scenarios may not find the answers they are looking for.
Things to consider with self-defense
There is a notion of equal force when it comes to self-defense. This means that even if you were not the person who threw the first punch, you could not beat the other person into a pulp. In other words, the goal of self-defense isn’t to teach someone a lesson, to stop them from attacking you. If a certain line of response has been crossed, you may be charged with assault, especially if your reaction seems like retribution rather than defense.
What is usually not considered self-defense?
In general, self-defense will not excuse violence if the person is committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing the scene of a crime they committed.
Suppose both parties are agreeing to a mutual fight. Many cases include fights in which both parties were provoking each other and begin fighting. You cannot egg someone on wanting to do physical harm unto them and expect that you will not be charged with assault, even if they attacked you first.
When is deadly force justifiable?
It is important to remember that any use of deadly force is going to be highly scrutinized. This means that killing someone in the name of defense should only be used if an alternative seems unlikely or impossible at the time. Deadly force can be used in times in which a person reasonably believes they are preventing murder or serious bodily injury to themselves or others.
Moreover, deadly force can be used in response to an immediate forcible felony. Forcible felonies are serious crimes that can result in the death or immense physical harm of another person. Examples include aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, rape, or the sexual assault of a child.
If you have been charged with assault, it is vital to have proper legal representation. Don’t let your fate fall into the hands of an overworked public defender with too many cases. Contact The Ault Firm today to speak with the best criminal defense lawyers to learn your rights.