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

UPDATED: Jun 9, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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