If someone pushes me, not just once but twice, do I have the legal right to punch them? 23 Answers as of April 01, 2013

My two 16-year-old sons were walking home from school. Two other boys came up on them. My sons told both of them to get back into their car, several times.( I know this because it is on tape) of course they did not and one of them pushed my son TWICE before my son finally punched the kid right in the face and then it was on. Are my sons at fault? They were threatened and tried to avoid the situation in the first place. Personally, I wouldn't have waited for the second shove.

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Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
there is a delicate balance between defending yourself and becoming an aggressor. I cannot answer the question accurately without knowing all of the facts. Do you remember the Rodney King fiasco on television? Whatever happened before the video cameras were turned on was irrelevant. He was on the ground, and as the cop came at him with the baton, he put up his arm in self defense mode, but the cop attacked him. That is when the cop became the aggressor and should have been kicked off the police force.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/1/2013
Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
Sounds like self defense to me.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/1/2013
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
If this is necessary I order to defend yourself then the answer is yes.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/25/2013
Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
I'm not sure punching someone that pushed you would be considered "like force" in self defense.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 3/25/2013
Attorney at Law | Ernest Krause
Seems like your son acted in self-defense.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/25/2013
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    The persons in the car committed a battery on your son. He had the right to defend himself. Your other son could plead defense of others. They both can plead self-defense if they are charged.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/24/2013
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    I would need further information to answer,such as were charges brought against your sons. If charges are brought your sons may have the defense of self defense, and you should hire an attorney and disclose all the facts and circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/24/2013
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    People have the privilege to defend themselves with force proportionate to the threat. It's best to avoid these situations. Also, one person's account of an incident will not necessarily be the same as someone else's.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/22/2013
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    You have the right to defend yourself. Not clear what happened here. your son told them to get back in the car? who gives your son the right to tell people what to do? I am suggesting that maybe he was part of the problem and it may not have been all clearly one way. Get the whole story.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/22/2013
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    Self-defense permits a person to use not more than the same force which confronts them. So for instance if a person used non-deadly force to confront you, you may use equal force to defend yourself. However, you may not use deadly force to defend yourself when confronted with non-deadly force. An attorney can assist you with evaluating the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to plea bargain or go to trial. If you were to be found guilty, then an attorney can assist you with presenting mitigation, allocution, and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. Consider seeking a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Beware that online posts are not confidential. If somehow the prosecution were to find your post, then it might be used in evidence against you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/22/2013
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    Nobody pushed you. Technically, it was your son who escalated, but he was provoked.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/22/2013
    Law Office of Lisa Hurtado McDonnell | Lisa Hurtado McDonnell
    You do not have a right to punch anyone. You have a right to defend yourself if your been threatened with body injury. Was the push threatening? Were you fearful?
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/22/2013
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    You have conveniently started the story at the point where the other boys got out of the vehicle. You want to fill us in on what occurred such that your sons knew trouble was getting out of the vehicle. Your sons do not have the right to strike someone. Self-defense is their defense, but it does not stop then from getting arrested.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    You do not have the legal right to punch someone just because you are pushed. It is against the law to assault someone (hit, push, slap, etc. is an assault and battery). However, self defense is a defense to an assault charge. The elements of self defense are 1) that you have a reasonable fear that someone is about to physically harm you, 2) you have no opportunity to retreat and avoid the harm, and 3) you use only reasonable force to avoid the danger. A part of self defense is that you have a duty to retreat and leave to avoid the danger before you attack. Also, you must use just enough force to avoid the conflict. Punching the person arguably is not to defend yourself (especially where you can retreat) but is meant to get them back, to get revenge for their assault on you. As a practical matter, you normally will not get charged with a crime if someone picks a fight and you fight back rather than retreating. Where you get in trouble is after you have hit the other person, and they give up, you keep on until you put them in the hospital. But any time you retaliate to get them back, rather than defend yourself, there is a potential that you could be charged with assault.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    That would qualify as self defense. Whether a prosecutor would press charges is hard to say. If your son was charged, go file charges against the other two boys. Throw in menacing, stalking, harassment, and if they threatened him with bodily harm, terroristic threats. Make copies of the tape.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    The question is whether the force was reasonable under the circumstances in self-defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    No. You can only use force defensively to stop the attack. If attack is over them you cannot punch them in revenge.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    It sounds like they may have a claim of self defense.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If they reacted while the other people were actually striking them, they could invoke the affirmative defense of self-defense. General rule is you can use reasonable force equal to the force being used against you, to prevail with that defense.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    That depends on a lot of different things. Obviously, I have no idea what the witnesses told police. Of course, anyone can use reasonable force to defend themselves. The issue, then, is whether or not the degree of force your son used was reasonable and proportional to the threat. Without knowing more, I can't say.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    No.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    Your sons were not in the right. First, they had the opportunity to disengage from the situation by walking away. Second, you can only use reasonable force against what you are confronted with (shove v. punch). Lastly, after the punch, your sons again had the opportunity to leave and they did not. Both sons and the person who shoved are chargeable with Assault 4.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    No. Not necessarily. For any self defense claim to be valid when you are charged with an assault, you must demonstrate that you used reasonable force. Budging someone may not be deemed a reasonable response to a push. That is particularly true when you are able to retreat.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/21/2013
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