Assault and Battery Defenses

Offenders charged with assault and/or battery may have available defenses. Available defenses vary on a case by case basis, and they depend on the facts of the case. An offender has the burden of proving a defense exists. If an offender can prove a defense, he or she may defeat the assault and battery charge.

Defenses play a vital role in criminal proceedings, and it is important for offenders to know which defenses are available. Consulting an assault criminal defense attorney is recommended.

Some common defenses for assault and battery include:


One of the best-known defenses is that of self-defense. To establish that he or she acted in self-defense, an offender must show the following elements:

  • A threat of unlawful force or harm against them;
  • A reasonable basis for a real threat against them;
  • They did not provoke the threat of force or harm; and
  • There was no reasonable opportunity to retreat or escape.

Self-defense is grounded in reasonableness. An individual acting in self-defense must be doing so reasonably. This means that the offender must show that he or she used reasonable force when compared to the threat. A finder of fact will be allowed to consider the age, size, and physical condition of the parties when determining reasonableness.

Defense of Others

There are countless stories of bystanders using force to intervene and protect another from being battered or assaulted. The intervening bystander may be charged with assault and battery. However, an intervening bystander may have a defense validating his or her actions.

The use of force in the defense of others is a defense to assault and battery. The defense is valid if the offender is able to demonstrate that there existed an honest and real fear of harm to another. Additionally, the accused must show that he or she acted reasonably in the defense of others.

Defense of Property

Individuals may use force in order to defend property. The State of New Jersey allows for the defense of both real and personal property. However, New Jersey law requires that the individual using force in defense or property be in possession or control.

As with the aforementioned defenses, the use of force must be reasonable. A use of force is permitted whenever there exists the reasonable belief that it is necessary to stop the commission of a crime.

When defending real property, an individual cannot use force against an intruder unless he or she first requests the intruder to stop. The request need not be made if it is useless or potentially dangerous to the individual, others, or the property. It is not permitted to use force on a trespasser if it would expose the trespasser to substantial bodily harm.

Deadly force is permitted in limited situations. Deadly force is reasonable to prevent the commission of crimes such as arson, burglary, or robbery.

Call 856-227-2434 today for a free consultation.

You may have a valid defense to an assault and battery charge. Consult a New Jersey assault and battery attorney immediately if you have been charged. John C. Iannelli, Attorney at Law, has the knowledge and experience necessary to carefully review the facts of your case for facts supporting your defense claim and to execute a strong legal strategy. Schedule your consultation today.

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