Violent crimes can be among the most serious cases in which a person can be named. In many situations involving a physical altercation, there are multiple accounts of the event, heated emotions and potential catastrophic injuries which can all impact the charges a person can face.
The first response many people have when they are accused of a violent crime is that they didn’t do anything wrong, and that any physical altercation that may have taken place was only done in self-defense. This claim — that a violent response was justified — may be easy to understand on the surface, but proving this successfully in court can be very complicated and legally challenging.
The law allows people in New Jersey to defend themselves using reasonable force if they believe they are in imminent danger. This is a very simplified way of explaining self-defense, but it can allow us to discuss a few ways prosecutors will try to challenge this defense in court.
To begin with, prosecutors may try to prove that a person was not defending themselves or anyone else. In some cases, they may try to argue that the person facing charges actually provoked another person.
The use of reasonable force can also be challenged. Was the physical response proportional to the potential threat?
Finally, the question of whether a threat was truly imminent can be raised. Prosecutors may try to prove that the threat was non-existent, unreasonable or not an immediate one that would warrant a violent response.
Thankfully, any person facing these charges has the right to work with an attorney who can anticipate these challenges and understands legal strategies for defending against them. There are two sides to every story, and people who are accused of a violent crime in New Jersey should know that they have the right to have their side of the story heard.