Do I have the right to protect myself and child when threatened on my own property?

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Do I have the right to protect myself and child when threatened on my own property?

My ex-husband arrived 2 hours late to pick up our 11 year-old for visitation. He did not call; child didn’t want to go. Ex then got out of his car to force her to go and argued with my current spouse. I walked outside and told him to leave; he didn’t leave. In fact he proceeded towards me, screaming and waiving his arms like a mad man. He got right in my face and spit on me, continuing to scream and name call. I kicked him to get him off of me and out of my face. I got inside to the phone and call 911. He later filed charges of battery against me because I left a bruise on his leg. Court date 11/29/10. Do I plea self-defense or no contest?

Asked on November 21, 2010 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should retain a criminal defense attorney to defend you. The answer will be found in the precise circumstances, which is why need an attorney to evaluate the specific circumstances with you. It will turn, most likely, on whether it would have been reasonable to believe a physical attack on you or your children was imminent--e.g. he was about to hit, etc. you--or not. If a physical attack was not imminent, or rather, if a reasonable person would not have thought a physical attack was imminent, then you could not hit him--you can't hit someone for yelling, screaming, etc. If it would be reasonable to think a physical attack was about to happen, then you likely can act to defend youself. In addition to advising you about how to plead, the attorney can also advise you as to any other steps--e.g. a protection order--you should consider.


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