Most people accused of a violent offense in Pennsylvania will immediately try to claim they didn’t commit the crime. Providing an alibi that shows they were somewhere else or challenging the statement of the victim or witnesses could be a way for those accused of a serious offense like assault to create a reasonable doubt in one or more jury members and avoid a conviction.
However, sometimes the state has compelling evidence that you were there and that you were involved in a physical altercation. Could using an affirmative defense, admitting that you are the one who hit the other person help you defend against assault charges in Pennsylvania?
Admitting your involvement opens up the possibility of claiming self-defense
You can’t introduce an argument to the jury about your motive for striking another person and ostensibly committing assault if you try to deny that you were even present at the scene of the alleged crime.
In an affirmative defense, a defendant facing criminal charges doesn’t try to prove that they didn’t do something wrong. Instead, they agree that they did certain things but disagree with the interpretation of their actions. Self-defense claims are among the most common affirmative defenses.
How self-defense claims work
If you claim self-defense when responding to an assault charge, you admit that you were present and that you used physical force against the other party. However, you deny that doing so was a criminal offense or an act of assault because it falls under your right to self-defense.
Provided that you had reason to believe the other party intended to hurt you or commit a crime against you, defending yourself with physical force is not necessarily illegal. So long as you felt you had to act and that the amount of force used reflects the perceived level of danger, you could admit you hit someone and still avoid conviction.
The evidence the state gathers will determine the best defense strategy
The best way to defend yourself will depend on what evidence police officers gather in their investigation of the incident.