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Defenses to Assault and Battery in Georgia

A person charged with simple assault or simple battery in Georgia has several affirmative defenses at his/her disposal should he/she go to trial. An effective assault defense attorney, battery defense lawyer and/or criminal defense attorney will know how to effectively employ these defenses in your favor.

First, and foremost, is the self-defense argument. In Georgia, “a person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force. . .”

In order to effectively utilize this defense, there should be some evidence that you (or someone else) had been attacked or reasonably believed an attack was imminent. While pleading the Fifth Amendment is usually a good idea, when you’ve been attacked you probably want to ensure the police know you were responding to aggression.

Next, is the affirmative defense of defense of one’s habitation. In Georgia, “a person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's unlawful entry into or attack upon a habitation . . .”

It’s important to not the element of “reasonableness” in this affirmative defense. It would be unreasonable to pull a gun on the repo man in your driveway. On the other hand, should an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend refuse to leave your foyer, pushing them out the door would probably NOT be unreasonable. Ultimately, the reasonableness of your decision to use force will be judged by your peers.

Finally, there is the affirmative defense of “opprobrious or abusive language”. In Georgia, “A person charged with the offense of simple assault or simple battery may introduce in evidence any opprobrious or abusive language used by the person against whom force was threatened or used; and the trier of facts may, in its discretion, find that the words used were justification for simple assault or simple battery.”

This means that you don’t necessarily have to stand there and take it should someone be “in your face” calling your mother (or someone else dear to you) every name in the book. Again, your decision to act will be judged by your peers. As such, if the language is not something that would incite the ordinary person it may not be sufficient to help you at trial.

It is important to understand that these defenses do not “win” the case for someone charged with simple assault or simple battery. It is merely evidence in your favor. Because you have presented evidence of one (or more) of the affirmative defenses, the trial judge will instruct the jury on the above law. Your attorney will then be able to argue how that law fits the facts presented at trial. The argument will conclude with his/her plea that you should be acquitted because you were defending yourself (or were subjected to opprobrious or abusive language etc.).

 Should you wish to avoid trial, evidence of defense of person, defense of habitation or opprobrious/abusive language may be enough to persuade the prosecution to reduce the charges or even dismiss the case.

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with simple assault or simple battery in the Metro Atlanta area, visit my website at I can be reached with your questions via email at [email protected] and you can always call me at 770-729-4809.

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