When you are hit or shoved first, what do you do when the other person wants to press charges?

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When you are hit or shoved first, what do you do when the other person wants to press charges?

My daughter, over 18, was assaulted first. She was shoved and grabbed by the hair by a girl who refused to let go of my daughter. My daughter than started punching to get her to release her. In the end the girl who started this looked worse than my daughter only because her nose bled all over. Now she wants to press charges against my daughter. The aggressor even attacked the lady cop. What scares me is that after all this the girl then claims a previous back injury is causing her to be immobile. She had to be sent to the hospital, apparently unable to move. My daughter has never been in trouble. Can’t she plead self-defense? Should we speak with a criminal defense attorney? In Antrim County, MI?

Asked on June 9, 2011 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The answer to both your questions is "yes"--

Yes, your daughter should speak to a criminal defense attorney IF charges are pressed against her--and/or to an attorney with experience defending against personal injury lawsuits, if your daughter is sued--since in either case, given what is at stake (potentially her freedom; or possibly a large judgment against her), she wants a lawyer on her side.

Yes, self-defense can be a defense to both criminal liabilty for assault and to civil liability (a lawsuit) for assault as well. However, the fact that your daughter seems to have a defense does not mean that she should not seek the help of an attorney.

Note that an issue with self-defense is whether the response was appropriate or proportionate to the assault, and also whether the "defense" continued after the assault stopped; e.g. if your daughter hit the other woman after she had already let go, that reduces the ability to plead self-defense.


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