Many people who are accused of assault allege that they were acting in self-defense. Under Oregon’s self-defense law, you are legally allowed to use physical force to protect yourself or another person from harm in certain situations. Generally, self-defense is only allowed if:
You believe the danger is imminent.
To prove that you were acting in self-defense, you will need to show that you were feeling threatened by the perpetrator at the time of the incident. Prior threats made by the perpetrator in the days and weeks leading up to the incident do not generally mean that you were in imminent danger.
You felt that force was necessary.
You will also need to show that you had a reasonable belief that the force you used was necessary to prevent harm to yourself or someone else. Therefore, you will have to prove that force was justified and that the level of force used was justified. For example, if someone about the same size as you punches you and you stab them with a knife, the jury may find that the force you used was unnecessary given the circumstances.
You did not start the fight.
If you initiated the altercation, you will generally not be able to use self-defense as a defense. However, if you can show you withdrew and were no longer the “aggressor” and the other person continued to threaten violence or attack, you may then be able to claim self-defense.
The use of self-defense can be highly effective in certain cases. A criminal defense attorney in your area can help determine whether arguing for self-defense would make sense in your specific case.