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What are the defenses against violent crime charges?

When defendants in New York are facing serious criminal penalties, it is important to understand what defense options are available. While some defenses work to prove that the alleged crime did not occur, others seek to establish a just cause for an action, excusing the defendant from criminal charges. This commonly occurs when a defendant seeks to make a defense against a violent crime, such as the accusation of an assault or battery.

What are the defenses against violent crime charges? For an assault and battery charge, there are four major defense options. The type of defense used is highly dependent on the circumstances of the incident and the details of the supposed crime. However, when considering the basic elements of an assault and battery charge, these four types of defenses could help the accused reduce or dismiss the charges.

The first type of defense option is self-defense, and this is the most commonly used defense in an assault and battery charge. In order for this defense to be successful, the accused must prove that there was a threat of unlawful force or harm against, there was an honest perceived fear of harm, there was no harm or provocation on the part of the defendant and there was no reasonable ability for the defendant to retreat or escape this harm.

The defense of another is the second type of defense that could be used by the defendant. This is similar to the requirements for self-defense, except that the honest and perceived fear of harm to another must have been apparent and was the cause of the defendant using force to defend another person.

A third option is defense of property. While this defense varies from state to state, in some situations a defendant could validly use force to protect property from being invaded or illegally withheld. This is likely to be a more valid defense if the property is being stolen directly from the defendant, such as a wallet or a purse, and the individual used reasonable force to protect that property.

The last defense option for an assault and battery charge is consent. While this depends on the jurisdiction and the circumstances surrounding the event, if an individual consented to voluntarily participate in an act, then that individual cannot assert that the consented act was an assault and battery. Despite that, in cases where the act violated public policy, the act could still be an assault and battery even if it was consented to.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Assault and Battery Defenses," accessed Sept. 26, 2015

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