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Effective Defense Strategies When a Person Is Charged With Assault in Utah

A criminal defense lawyer represents clients who have been charged with assault. There are varying types of assault charges in Utah. One example is assault and battery, in which the defender is charged with causing actual physical harm to the person. Another is assault with a deadly weapon, which can cover both assault causing injury or simply an implied threat of force.


A client may ask whether it was legal or a justifiable defense to hit someone who struck first. A criminal lawyer may approach this with the court by focusing on the act as one of self-defense. The main issue will be whether the person who started a fight was seriously and pointlessly injured by the defendant. For example, if an individual gives someone a black eye, it is not necessarily justifiable to beat that person so badly that he needs treatment at an emergency room. Courts generally consider self-defense to be the minimum action required to stay safe or leave the situation safely.

Verifying the Need for Force

Witnesses may need to verify that a certain amount of force was needed to stop the initiator of the episode. A criminal defense lawyer may have some trouble using this theory if it turns out the person who threw the first punch is much smaller than the other, in significantly poorer physical condition, or handicapped in some way.

A person has the right to do what it takes to defend against physical harm, but that right only goes so far. The defense lawyer must be able to show that the client truly believed that danger was imminent. This may be possible to accomplish even if witnesses did not see evidence of imminent danger.

Establishing the Environment

Judges, juries and prosecuting attorneys want to make sure that people cannot successfully claim self-defense if their extreme actions were not actually necessary. This is why a criminal attorney like Aric Cramer works to recreate the environment in which the incident occurred. The defendant's emotional and mental state in that environment must be fully understood. For example, it may have been common knowledge that the attacker was known to carry a knife or brass knuckles that could be used to cause serious harm.

Stopping Forcible Crimes

Individuals also are legally allowed to use force to stop certain forcible crimes. This can be used in the defense as well. If the person who struck first was trying to commit robbery, for instance, the other individual is legally allowed to use force to stop this from happening.