Self-defense: it’s an important and self-evident right that can also be a legal gray area. In order to protect yourself and the people you love, you need to know Georgia’s position on self-defense, and how to avoid having the tables turned on you with an assault or battery charge.

What is Self-defense?

According to The People’s Law Dictionary, self-defense is “the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger.” The description goes on to say that the level of force used to defend oneself should be roughly equivalent to the amount of force threatened against them. In other words, while it is legal use a baseball bat to protect yourself from an aggressor’s punches, it is not appropriate to use a knife or a gun on them. The intent of self-defense is to stop the attack and prevent harm from coming to oneself or a third party, not to escalate the encounter. If deadly force is threatened, however, then deadly force can be used in defense.

Georgia’s self-defense laws include what is commonly known as a “stand your ground” clause. While many states allow for the use of force in self-defense only if safe escape from the situation is impossible, Georgia allows the threatened party to defend themselves without first seeking to retreat.

Complications in Court

At first glance, the concept of self-defense may seem self-explanatory or intuitive. In court, though, “self-defense” is a common plea in the face of assault or battery charges, at which point the jury must determine which party was the primary aggressor. Georgia law considers “assault” to be any attempt to injure another person or giving another person reasonable cause to believe they are in danger of being injured. In other words, the aggressor doesn’t need to come into physical contact with the victim; the threats may be verbal or may be actions that provoke fear of injury in the victim.

For example, Mr. A may, under threatening circumstances, strike first and injure Mr. B, a perceived aggressor. Mr. B may then charge Mr. A with battery. (“Battery” entails physical contact that is intentionally provocative or injurious.) When Mr. A offers a self-defense plea, then it becomes incumbent upon Mr. A’s lawyer to prove that Mr. B was the initial aggressor (i.e., guilty of “assault”) and that Mr. A had “reasonable cause” for his actions towards Mr. B at every point of the situation as it escalated in order to demonstrate that his client’s response to the situation was justified.

The complex nature of self-defense cases demands an exceptional level of expertise on the part of the defense lawyer. Our attorneys have the strategic skills to build your defense case. If you have been charged with a violent crime while protecting yourself or others from aggression, give us a call immediately: (404) 973-2594. We are committed to constructing the strongest legal defense to protect your freedom and your future.