Defining the Fine Line Between Self-Defense and Assault

Defining the Fine Line Between Self-Defense and Assault

Most people live by the belief that in threatening situations they have the right to self-defense against another attempting to perpetuate harm. This comes from the assumption that such actions, due to the circumstances will be considered self-defense rather than assault. While this is true, you may be wondering at which point is the line crossed from self-defense to the dark waters of assault?

Not just any act of violence can be played off as self-defense. Instead, you must provide evidence that it was necessary to defend yourself. Typically, you must be able to substantiate your claim of self-defense with proof that you were unable to flee from the threat, and that there was, or you believed there was a serious threat to your well-being.

In order to be charged with crossing the line into assault, you must have operated within specific criteria. Continue reading to learn more about the fine line between the legal actions of self-defense and a more serious Colorado assault charge.

Defining Colorado Self-Defense

Self-defense is simply a counteraction to stop an attack of physical violence from being perpetrated against you. While the definition seems clear, when applied to the specifics of an individual situation, gray areas abound.

It is largely up to interpretation when determining the appropriate time to act out against another as a means of self-protection. Depending upon the person, he or she may feel the need to act sooner or later based upon mere personality traits. Another factor to be considered is whether retreat could’ve been a viable response instead of more violence. Since the need for self-defense is largely dependent upon an individual’s perception, it is possible a threat is merely perceived, but in reality, is not a viable threat.

Factors to Make Defining Lines a Bit Clearer

A key factor in determining what constitutes self-defense is the understanding of the word imminent. In layman’s terms, this simply means an immediate, present threat. Thus, in order to argue for self-defense, the only acceptable reason to employ force is to stop an imminent threat to your well-being.  

While the threat can be verbal or physical, if it is not an immediate threat requiring action, retaliation will NOT be considered self-defense. Henceforth, being offended by someone’s words without an immediate threat to your well-being, voids your right to react under the guise of self-defense.

Additionally, once the threat has been deterred, continuing after the perpetrator is no longer acceptable. Immediately upon the perpetrators retreat you must stop or risk assault charges.

Another situation warranting self-defense is when you have a legitimate reason to fear for your well-being, even if the threat was not actually real. However, you will be tasked with providing evidence to support that any person in the same situation would’ve also reacted in fear for their well-being.

Furthermore, in order to be considered self-defense, the reaction must be proportional to the threat. Simply put, you may react to deadly force with deadly force or a punch for a punch, but if you employ deadly force on someone who merely pushed you, the incident will not be considered self-defense.

Lastly, in order for a self-defense plea to hold water, it is the burden of the victim to show that they could not merely retreat and thus defuse the situation. However, if the event happens within a private residence special laws apply.

If you have used self-defense tactics to protect yourself, be sure your actions cannot be misconstrued into assault charges. Allow a skilled defense attorney to strengthen and defend your right to protect yourself.