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Can I plead self-defense after a bar fight?

men fighting.jpeg

For many college students, the responsibilities of adulthood and a clear perspective of legal liability do not come hand in hand. In far too many cases, very bright young individuals with good opportunities ahead of them derail themselves with criminal charges. With a better understanding of criminal law, they may understand why it is important to avoid physical altercations.

Despite the fact that fights break out in the bars in T.V. shows every several minutes, these kinds of interactions can lead to serious criminal charges in the real world. Depending on the circumstances and the outcome of the fight, a student who gets into a bar fight may find it very difficult to continue his or her education or even get a job.

If you are a college student or the parent of a college student who is facing assault charges, consider your next steps very carefully. If the prosecutor is particularly motivated, or if some aspect of your charge is particularly serious, you could face the following:

  • Major fines
  • Time behind bars
  • A criminal conviction that affects many aspects of your life well after graduation

Professional legal counsel can help you understand the scope of your charges and identify strong strategies to protect your rights and future.

Is claiming self-defense realistic?

Claiming self-defense may be effective against assault charges, but it can be hard to prove. Generally speaking, you cannot assault another person and then simply claim that you were afraid of them. While there are some instances where this has worked in court, it is far from the norm and usually involves complicating factors.

If you do sincerely fear that someone intends to cause you imminent harm, or may cause imminent harm to someone else, you may have grounds to defend against that harm. However, you must also consider several other elements of the situation.

What about Stand Your Ground?

As of 2016, Missouri maintains a "Stand Your Ground" law, but this does not mean you can harm or kill anyone you want. Rather, it means you do not have to retreat from a threat.

One important issue that is often not considered when it comes to self-defense is the scale of a threat in relation to the scale of a self-defensive response to that threat. Whereas you may claim self-defense after you physically strike someone who drunkenly swings at you, claiming self-defense after shooting the same person will prove much more difficult.

Protect your future now

Don't risk your future by failing to defend yourself against assault allegations. If you choose to wait before beginning to build your defense, the prosecution may already have a strong case against you. Be sure to use every tool you have available to protect yourself, your rights and your education.

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