Can assault charges be filed against me if it was self defense?

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Can assault charges be filed against me if it was self defense?

I was involved in a fight with a friend of mine. He has admitted to his mother and I that he started this fight. During the fight I knocked 2 of his teeth out. His parents are telling me that I must pay to have the teeth fixed or charges will be filed against me. What are my options in this situation?

Asked on January 2, 2012 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Generally, "self defense" is a defense to either criminal or civil liability for assault. However, whether something was self defense hinges on more than just who started the fight. The other issues are:

1) Was the amount of force you used appropriate--e.g., if he just pushed you in the shoulder, then you punched him repeatedly, hit him with an object, pushed his face into the wall, etc., what you did was probably not self defense, since it went well beyond the force used on you.

2) Did you injure him after the fight was over? If he tried to walk away from the fight or otherwise disengage from it, then you knocked his teeth, at that point, it's no longer self defense.

 If you believe that under the circumstances, it was self-defense, then you should have a good defense if anyone attempts to take legal action--though it may be worth trying to settle, and offering to pay something, to avoid even having to defend yourself in court.


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