What is the line between self defense and assault?

What does it take to classify it as self defense?

Can I hit him if he swings first or does he have to make contact?
If he tries to cheap shot me, can I attack him?
If he lays a hand on someone else, can I defend them?
If I’m attacked in the persons house, does it matter?
When do I have to let up?

You don’t have to answer every question…I just want to know if the situation ever comes around so I dont get into any legal trouble.

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20 Responses to What is the line between self defense and assault?

  1. T W says:

    being assaulted or have the fear (as seen by a reasonable person) that an assault is immenent or that bodily harm or death may have resulted if no action were taken.

  2. ☻Ädam☻ says:

    You can hurt them enough for you to get away. If you knock em in the face and they swing again punch him back. If you punch him in the face and he falls on his ass then you get away. If you hop on him and mess him up some more your assaulting himi.

  3. Freckle F says:

    -he should probably hit u first
    -more or less
    -as soon as they do

  4. elliefoster@rocketmail.com says:

    If he swings first and then tries to again if you hit him it would be defence. You cant hurt the person if he hits anyone else because its SELF defence. it doesnt matter whos house your in but if they break into your house without permission you can hit them. it helps if there are witnesses :)

  5. Sarah F says:

    Once there is an objectfiable defense in the name of if there is no hands on the throat of the offender then if there is a police report

  6. Lexi Z says:

    just hit them hard once and show em’ not to mess with u.

  7. oldmarine08 says:

    Self Defense is Defending yourself
    Assualt is taking the offensive

  8. FaZizzle says:

    Self defense would be if you or someone close to you were attacked and you reacted.

    However, you must FIRST attempt to get the police (dialing on a cell phone, yelling “9-1-1!” at the top of your lungs, etc) to show that you aren’t just a bully. Next, you should react only to the point when the attacker is no longer a threat. Don’t beat him to a pulp – get him to the point where you can get him down to the ground and can gain control of the situation.

    To prove it in court, you must prove that the attack would NOT have eased had you removed yourself from the situation.

    Legally, here are the steps:

    1) Check out the situation – can you just remove yourself from the environment (i.e. leave)?
    2) If not, call 9-1-1 or attempt to get someone to do so.
    3) Do not BEAT THE GUY TO A PULP. You want to give him as little bruising or beating as possible. This isn’t about revenge. If you beat him up, then you went from self defense to assault.
    4) Gain control of the situation and again get the police.

  9. etan_wish says:

    if you feel threatened you grab the vlodest thing to you to either hit the attacker or throw it as a distraction. Then kick really hard in the soft area between the legs.

    self defense.

  10. Fruit Loops says:

    I’m not exactly sure but if someone made the first move and you fought back, it would hold up in court.
    I’m pretty sure you would have to have some proof, like a witness or bruises to show that they actually attacked you.
    And as for letting up, I think just get them enough so they stop attacking you.
    Sorry about not being 100% sure. 😛

  11. Jimmy M says:

    1. he has to make contact. If he doesn’t it like swinging your arm to say hello
    2.No again has to make contact,
    3.Yes if they need help. Can’t just run in and have two people beating on the guy. If that happened he could clam self-defense. Because when a situation happens like that the judge will lean towards the one. Especially if the one had more serious injuries.
    4. Yes
    5. When the undesired action desists. So if he starts putting his hands up to protect his face or body/ goes unconscious . That’s when you should stop. Because if you don’t know you get charged with assault.

  12. magnolia_76 says:

    ♦ If someone swings at you, even if they miss you can then defend yourself.

    “A defendant is entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself, others for whom he is responsible and his property. It must be reasonable.”

    * Self-defensive is allowed when one fears being assaulted with consequences of serious harm or death.
    * The level of response must match the threat, not exceed it.
    * The person about to take defensive steps has a duty to warn if it would seem to do any good.
    * One has the duty to retreat from assault if possible.
    * Use force, especially deadly force, only as a last resort.
    * If a “victim” uses excessive force they become the aggressor.
    * Force becomes excessive when it exceeds that needed to assure one’s own safety
    * The more you know about self-defense the more responsible you have to be in its application.

  13. mackdillpicKleickerish says:

    you can swing back if swung upon but if the swing doesnt connect you should be able to walk away easily just knowing that whatever the beef was you were above it or not guilty though legally you could swing back but morally if you dont have a doubt that you could knock the swinger out then knocking him out only proves that you have self control issues . # 2 , no , but you can rest assured that nobody in the real world respects a cheap shot artist . #3 if he lays a hand on one of my people then yes , one of his and then no , unless the assaulted is in danger of losing life or limb . #4 not really , but it does change the dynamics of how to further proceed without caution . #5 never if you are truly doing your job for the right reasons .

  14. signsNscience says:

    Never pre-empt a defense, just turn thy other cheek in time to save the first cheek and reply with equal force or yet with a better force, forgiveness!

  15. JMP says:

    You should avoid this conflict if at all possible, but when that fails
    1) Always strike first. you might not get a chance if you take a solid blow.
    2) Do as much damage in as short amount of time as possible. In other words go for the vitals. It is easier to explain one throat shots vs. ten face punches.
    3) You had better have a bunch of witnesses
    4) Depends on your state laws. In Texas we can kill you for coming on our property.
    5) Let up? Are you planing on fist fight or are trying to defend yourself?

  16. fyi says:

    It’s self defense when you are fearing for your life or safety of yourself or others. It turns into assault when you go from self defense to trying to injure the attacker.
    It’s a VERY thin line. A friend of mine defended himself against 5 attackers and had to knock them out. He ended up having to do community service along with the rest of them.

  17. ahsoasho2u2 says:

    Do as the Police are trained to do and no problems will surface.
    See wikipedia: Use of Force Continuum
    Each response, escalates to a higher, lawful use, to contain, or control, or trying to control a situation.

    Self defense is defined by each state, as differently as night and day. Some states do not have a self defense law.

    1. If he swings first and misses, I would back up and ask what was that about?

    2. Trys to cheap shot you, same thing, question what are we playing or what?

    3. If he lays a hand on someone else? (Is that person incapable of defending themselves?)

    4. If you are attacked in the persons house, leave get outside, once outside ask the same thing whats that about? (Remember when inside a persons house, they can kill you and say you entered illegally, and they thought you were going to kill them?)

    5. When do I have to let up? (When they give up, say UNCLE, or tap out)

    I always ask what is that about? Maybe I misconstrued something?
    So give benefit of doubt, to stupid actions, by people.
    But if they persist I have already asked and given a warning of sorts and now we get it on.

  18. Diana B says:

    Self defense isn’t classified – it’s a legal conclusion based on an uncritical evaluation of the facts.

    Non-legal and vague slang doesn’t control the ultimate conclusion of self defense.

    “Can I hit him if he swings first or does he have to make contact?”
    If you can get away, then you are not defending yourself, and you will be culpable for any consequences. Also, depending on how this situation even got started, your self-defense may be an even weaker case.

    “If he tries to cheap shot me, can I attack him?”
    Cheap shot?

    Again – if you can avoid responding w/o injury, then you can defend yourself – that’s what self-defense means.

    “If he lays a hand on someone else, can I defend them?”
    By doing what? Do you think that there’s a law against providing an attacked person w/any assistance? I think you’re confusing defense in general with the specific criminal defense of justified asault.

    “If I’m attacked in the persons house, does it matter?”
    You seem to think that these questions are simple – they are not. Rather they are decided after a full reading of the facts. There is no checklist.

    “When do I have to let up?”
    Assuming you were legally entitled to let-down, you must relent once you can safely leave.

    “I just want to know if the situation ever comes around so I dont get into any legal trouble.”
    2 things – the situation seldom just comes around – people make it so. Other people know what the situation is and avoid simple steps to keep themselves from being trapped by circumstance. Maybe you, maybe someone else.
    If you do get into trouble, the law will be the least of your worries.

  19. Thomas B says:


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