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Forming a defense against physical force

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Self-defense is a method of defending against a physical assault charge. The victim must prove that it was reasonable and necessary when being used against an attack that may have caused injury or death. According to New York law, a defendant can use the claim of “defending oneself or another against physical force.”

The self-defense rule

New York’s Penal Law §35.15 states that the use of physical force is justified in terms of self-defense. That being said, you must prove that you reasonably believed that it was necessary to use force of your own against an illegal imminent use of force against you. An exception is a general rule called “combat by agreement,” which occurs if you were the aggressor who provoked the attack in the first place.

Justifying your actions

To justify this type of criminal defense, you must show that you believed your physical force was necessary to prevent the attack and was reasonable under the circumstances. This rule involves the use of physical force, not deadly force. “Deadly physical force” (that caused a serious bodily injury or death) is not permissible in court. In addition, the prosecutor will most surely claim that the person using the force had the opportunity to retreat, run, or take a less lethal action than deadly physical force.

Proving your arguments in court

Self-defense is one of the most effective arguments used in criminal defense. Even so, the prosecution can argue against your claim and prove that you had other methods to use besides physical force. Overall, using self-defense is a way of appealing to the public’s emotions by provoking sympathy. A person might see an acquittal or a conviction on a lesser charge after claiming self-defense.