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What to Do If You’re Charged With Assault

Being charged with assault is scary. Depending on the severity of the charges and your chances of conviction, you could be facing serious jail time or hefty fines. However, with the help of a good lawyer, you may be in a position to receive a lighter sentence, or even have the charges dropped altogether.

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Being charged with assault is scary. Depending on the severity of the charges and your chances of conviction, you could be facing serious jail time or hefty fines. However, with the help of a good lawyer, you may be in a position to receive a lighter sentence, or even have the charges dropped altogether.

Here’s what you should do.

Remain Calm and Cooperative

This is a difficult and stressful situation, but you must do your best to remain calm. With a clear and level head, you’ll be capable of making better, more informed decisions, and you’ll be less likely to put yourself in more trouble. Similarly, you need to remain somewhat cooperative with the police. If you’re arrested, do not resist.

Don’t Talk to the Police

Don’t talk to the police without a lawyer present. Most people have heard the phrase that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” but this isn’t just a stock phrase used in movies and TV shows. You have a genuine right to remain silent, and every word that leaves your mouth could genuinely be your undoing. The police can and will lie to you, manipulate you, or use your own words against you, so the safest course of action is to not speak at all.

The only exceptions here are pieces of information that you’re legally required to provide, such as your name, address, and date of birth in some areas.

Contact a Good Lawyer ASAP

As early in the process as possible, you need to contact a good criminal defense lawyer. Your criminal defense lawyer will help you understand the charges being pressed against you, understand the evidence of your case, and provide you with advice on how to proceed. They will be with you during interrogations and negotiations, they will monitor police activity around your case, and they will help you get the best possible outcome, regardless of your culpability.

There’s a second part to this instruction; be sure to trust and follow the guidance of your lawyer. You’ve hired this person because you trust their expertise, so don’t blow off their recommendations.

Don’t Talk to Anyone About the Assault

Next, avoid talking to anyone about the assault. This incident may have been stressful, or even traumatic for you, so you’ll be tempted to turn to friends and family members to talk about your feelings or discuss the charges being brought against you. Unfortunately, this can be problematic, ultimately creating new evidence that could be used against you in the future. It’s better to keep things to yourself until this situation has been fully resolved.

Avoid Posting on Social Media

Similarly, it’s wise to avoid posting on social media. Even seemingly innocuous messages could be used to build a case against you – and that’s true even if you take advantage of full privacy settings. Consider temporarily deleting your social media apps so you aren’t even tempted to make a post.

Don’t Attempt to Contact the Victim

If you know the victim of the assault, avoid any attempt to contact them. Depending on the circumstances, you may feel a compelling urge to reach out, explain your intentions, apologize, or even make up for the assault; conversely, you may be angry at the person for leveling these charges against you. But realistically, it doesn’t matter what happened or how you feel: any attempt to contact the victim is likely to work against you, so avoid making one.

Don’t Delete or Destroy Evidence

Tampering with evidence is a crime in many jurisdictions. Any action that could be perceived as tampering with evidence, such as deleting a video from your phone or removing an old post on social media, could make your situation much worse. It’s a tempting move, especially if the evidence is damning, but you’re better off leaving it be.

Begin Building Your Defense

There are many ways that you could beat your assault charges, so work with your lawyer to begin building your case.

  •       Evidence undermining and dismissal. If you can undermine, disprove, or totally dismiss pieces of evidence against you, the assault charges could be dropped.
  •       Establishment of intent. Assault requires intent, so if you didn’t have intent and can prove it, you’ll be in a much better position.
  •       Establishment of self-defense or defense of others. An action doesn’t qualify as assault if it was taken in self-defense or defense of others or property. For example, if you punch someone in the face because they started a fight with you after you tried to run away, or if you step in to stop a mugging in process, you can’t be convicted of assault.
  •       Evidence of no harm. In addition to requiring the intent to cause harm, assault requires that harm must actually be done. If you can prove that no harm came to the victim, you can beat the assault charges.
  •       Evidence of consent. Similarly, the assault charge will become invalid if you can provide evidence of consent. If the other person consented to this action, it’s not assault.

Nobody wants to be in the position of facing assault charges, but you may eventually find yourself here in the future, even if you never assault anyone. As long as you stay quiet, hire a good lawyer, and follow that lawyer’s guidance, you’ll be able to greatly improve your odds of a good outcome.



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