A self defense plea can sometimes be your best bet when the odds are stacked against your innocence. Here are some of the things that go into a successful self defense plea.
Proof of Imminent Threat
The first condition for a self defense plea is that there's a threat of imminent violence. This could be either a verbal or physical threat, but a verbal threat must allude to imminent physical harm rather than implying being an insult. Having the right evidence helps, including getting the threat caught on camera or having witnesses around.
Proving a Reasonable Fear of Harm
Another factor that will be considered in court is whether the fear of harm was reasonable. The jury will look at whether a rational, reasonable person would perceive that they are in immediate danger given the circumstances. For instance, someone uttering empty threats, from a reasonable distance, while not taking any kind of aggressive stance towards the defendant would not be a good example of reasonable harm. Work with your criminal defense attorney to justify the circumstances before adopting a self defense plea; sometimes it's in your attorney's hands to paint a compelling argument for this.
Using a Proportional Response
The use of a proportional response will also be considered. For instance, if someone punches you, you probably don't need to beat them unconscious if they back down from the first punch. There is some overlap between these conditions and the others; for instance, your perception of a "proportional" response will depend on how you perceive the threat you're in. Since this can be a bit subjective, it will take some reasoning from your lawyer to convince the jury what a proportional response would look like, given a "reasonable" person in that situation.
A Great Defense Attorney
Even if you hit many of the points above, it will take a talented lawyer to create a successful self defense case. You may have to admit that you're guilty in the hopes of getting a successful self defense plea, which means that you need to have the best representation on your side to sway the jury's mind. When choosing a criminal defense attorney for this case, look for someone with years of experience as a successful criminal lawyer and/or specialized experience in winning self defense cases. With the right combination of preparation and circumstances, you can pull off a successful self defense plea.
Visit a lawyer like Jeffrey D. Larson, Attorney at Law for more information.