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Assault or Self-Defense?

The law protects your right to defend yourself against harm, but the line can be thin. Yes, you’re allowed to use physical force to protect yourself and others, but only in limited circumstances. This can be an especially tough thing to moderate, because these situations tend to happen in a blur and when emotions are generally high. Sadly, your act of self-defense can be misconstrued as assault in the eyes of the law and could land you in some hot water.

What Is Considered Self-Defense?

According to C.G.S. § 53a-19, you are justified in using reasonable physical force upon another person to defend yourself or another person from what you reasonably believe is the use or imminent use of physical force. Deadly physical force can only be used if you reasonably believe the assailant is using or imminently going to use deadly physical force or the attacker is inflicting or going to imminently inflict substantial bodily harm to you or another person or persons.

Unfortunately, what is considered “reasonable” force during self-defense is initially up to the police and prosecutors, based on preliminary evidence and potential witnesses. Since it’s open to interpretation, you need an experienced self-defense attorney to help prove that your self-defense is justifiable and reasonable in proportion to the amount of force threatened against you.


If your self-defense case is thrown out and replaced with an assault charge, you can face some serious penalties. Assault in the third degree, the least serious of assault charges, can land you in prison for up to a year and with up to a $2,000 fine. With assault in the first degree, in which someone is seriously injured with a weapon, you can face up to 20 years in prison (5 minimum) and up to $15,000 in fines.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

If you were arrested for assault, but believe you were defending yourself, please contact our Connecticut criminal defense attorneys at Tomeo Sills, LLC. Our team of experienced lawyers can look closely at your case and help you build a strong defense.

Call (844) 913-7747 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.