Can I be criminally chargedif my actions were in self-defense?

I was walking home with my girlfriend, 2 drunk underage guys were yelling at us. I waved them off; they elevated their comments and I began to feel threatened. I told them that I would shoot them in the head with my gun (I had no gun, I was ambiguously referencing my pepper spray gun in the hopes that they would leave). They did not believe I had any weapon and attacked us. My girlfriend escaped inside; I was badly injured. I called 911 and they were caught. I was taken to ER where I spent next day. Cop told my girlfriend that night that I would be charged but did not say for what.

Asked on September 19, 2010 under Criminal Law, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, self-defense is a *defense* to a charge of assault. That means that you can be charged, if there would be enough--if it wasn't a case of self-defense--to charge you; you can then raise the defense of self-defense at trial.

Second, self-defense is generally not applicable if you egged on, taunted, instigated, etc. the confrontation. If you "waived them off" and threatened the attackers, it  might be taken that you instigaged the confrontation.

It's not impossible that a false claim that you have a gun is itself a violation of some criminal code.

You should retain a criminal defense attorney right away; the lawyer can help you understand what you might be charged with as well as defend you if charges are proferred.

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