Claiming Self-Defense Against Assault Charges

 Posted on November 22, 2023 in Criminal Law

Arlington Heights Criminal Defense Lawyer

Protecting ourselves is a basic human instinct. Without this innate trait, the human race would have become extinct thousands of years ago.

In Illinois, a person commits assault if the individual physically threatens another. If you are facing assault charges, you may be able to negate criminal liability by proving that you acted in self-defense. 

If you believe your use of force was necessary, an Arlington Heights criminal defense lawyer will know what steps need to be taken to create the strongest defense.

What Qualifies as Self-Defense in Illinois?

According to Illinois law, “a person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.” 

The following elements must be present to prove self-defense:

  • You must believe that the force used was necessary: Someone else in your situation would also believe that you or another person were in harm’s way and that you needed to use force to protect yourself or another.
  • The amount of force used must be reasonable given the circumstances: Your level of force must be proportionate to the degree to which you are in danger. If someone has punched you, you cannot stab them in response since this action would not be equivalent to the threat before you.
  • The force used must be against someone who is breaking the law: If you are acting in self-defense, it must be against someone who is using unlawful force against you. If the other person is not breaking the law, then you cannot legally use physical force.
  • The danger must be imminent: There must be an immediate threat to you, another person, or your property. 

Burden of Proof

Self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning that even though the defendant may have committed the alleged acts, the individual was justified in his or her actions and will not be found criminally liable. The defendant has to present evidence or testimony to raise the issue of self-defense.

A judge or jury will be the fact finder or trier of fact. They will be given the task of determining what really happened in your case. They should take into consideration all relevant evidence and credible witness testimony. It will be up to a judge or jury to determine if your use of force was warranted. 

The prosecutor will have to present enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that the defendant’s use of force was not justified. The prosecutor must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is the highest level of proof required in court, reserved for criminal trials. Simply stated, the prosecution is required to prove that the defendant is guilty to the extent that there is no other reasonable explanation given the facts.

If you have been charged with a crime, but you believe that you acted in self-defense, you need to consult with a Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer.

Facing Assault Charges? Contact an Arlington Heights, IL, Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are being charged with a violent crime, you may not be to blame. If your actions were an attempt to protect yourself, you should speak with a Rolling Meadows, IL, criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law today online or by calling 847-253-3400 to schedule your free consultation. 

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