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Can you get an assault charge when trying to protect yourself?

In 2020, there were 4,215 accounts of aggravated assault in Alaska, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The question arises, can you get charged with assault when trying to protect yourself?

In the vast landscapes of the state’s laws, confrontations can occur in many forms, and they may sometimes require physical self-defense. However, using force in self-defense can potentially lead to criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.

Understanding Alaska’s self-defense laws

In Alaska, you have the right to protect yourself when you reasonably believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect yourself against the other’s use of unlawful force. However, the level of force you use in self-defense must be proportionate to the threat you face. If you use more force than necessary or continue using force after the threat has passed, you could face assault charges.

When can self-defense lead to an assault charge?

While Alaska law allows for self-defense, it does not grant immunity from assault charges. If the authorities determine that you used excessive force or that your belief of imminent harm was unreasonable, they could charge you with assault.

For instance, if you respond to a threat of minor injury with lethal force, the law might view your action as excessive. Similarly, if you attack someone who no longer poses a threat to you, officials may consider your actions unnecessary and result in an assault charge.

To protect yourself from getting an assault charge when defending yourself in Alaska, make sure your actions align with the state’s self-defense laws. This means using force only when necessary and ensuring your response matches the level of threat you face. Always try to de-escalate the situation if possible and resort to physical force only as a last resort.