Maybe you were at a family reunion when your cousin started making off-colored jokes about your wife. The next thing you knew, family members had to pull the two of you apart because you absolutely lost your cool. Perhaps you were out at a bar when things took a turn for the aggressive, and the person that you started arguing with wasn’t a family member but a total stranger.
In either case, you might find yourself facing assault charges. The police may arrive and determine that you were the one to blame for the situation, regardless of whatever claims you make. They could then take you to jail and convince a prosecutor to bring charges against you. What determines whether you or the other party ends up facing charges?
Who broke the physical barrier?
In many assault cases where both parties may have put their hands on the other, the main question that police need to answer is who instigated the situation. Most of the time, the party who is first to make physical contact with the other person is the one likely to be to blame for the fight and therefore the one more likely to face charges.
However, sometimes the words used by the other party can be enough to justify a physical response. You make be able to defend against your decision to take the first swing if the other party directly threatened you and it seemed like a credible threat to you.
The perception of others and the outcome of the fight
Sometimes, especially when the people involved in an incident or under the influence at the time, it will be the limited perspective of a security camera nearby or the opinions of people who witnessed part of the fight that help the police officers decide who is to blame for the fight and therefore who to charge with a criminal offense.
Sometimes, it could also be the outcome of the fight. If the other party ends up in the hospital, the state may be more likely to pursue charges than in the scenario where the only injuries that results are minor bruises and scraped knuckles. It is crucial to know, however, that severe injury is not necessary for the state to successfully prosecute someone for assault.
Challenging the way that the state presents the incident and providing an alternate explanation for what occurred could be key to successfully defending yourself against assault charges in Florida.