Assault is defined as the intent to commit battery or to arouse fear of bodily harm in someone else. Some states require that assault charges involve the "present ability to succeed," which means that a suspect will actually have to posses the means to harm someone physically. If you are accused of assault, here are suggestions as to how to defend yourself.
- Skill level:
Hire an attorney who specializes in assault charges. The more experience the attorney has had in cases similar to yours, the greater your chance of success. If you've never hired a lawyer before, find information on choosing an attorney at the FindLaw site (see Resources below).
Prepare for your arraignment. Collect copies of documents your attorney will need for your defense: arrest record, police file, mental health record, information about witnesses and information about your alibi. Read more about what you might need on FindLaw (see Resources below).
At the arraignment, you will declare what you plead to (guilty, not guilty or no contest), so to defend yourself properly, discuss the defense stategy with your attorney. It is important to tell the truth, determine why events occurred as they did and determine a consistency in evidence.
Keep in mind that the Fifth Amendment gives criminal defendants the right not to testify. This right does not extend to fingerprints and DNA samples, however, which can be requested during a trial.
Follow through after a conviction. You have a Sixth Amendment right to an appeal, and the government is required to hire an attorney to represent you on your first appeal.
Contact a support group for those who feel that they have been wrongly accused, such as the National Center for Reason and Justice (see Resources below).
Tips and warnings
- If you are arrested for assault, you have no obligation to make a statement. Simply give your name and address and then wait until you have appropriate counsel by an attorney.
- You have a right to obtain legal assistance under the U.S. Constitution. The government will provide you with a lawyer for free if you can't afford to hire a lawyer on your own.
- If you have been charged with assault and are convicted, you may face long-term consequences, such as sentences of up to twenty years.
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