Long before the invention of the modern judicial system, society recognized self-defense as a legitimate form of violence. This universally accepted principal, that people have the right to defend themselves against the aggressions of others, even when such behavior would be a crime otherwise, has been adopted by every state, as well as by the federal government. While the specific rules vary depending on the jurisdiction, the principle remains the same.
That principle may help a New Jersey man who was arrested for aggravated assault after he allegedly attacked another New Jersey man with a machete earlier this month. According to the Assistant Prosecutor handling the case, the 29-year-old defendant picked up the knife outside of a bar on Whitaker Street. Prosecutors claim that he then violently assaulted another man around 1:30 a.m. Both the men involved had been drinking at the Antigua Bar before the assault.
The defendant in the matter is being charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. According to the defendant, however, he struck the victim with the machete in order to get away. The defendant claims that the alleged "victim" of the attack was in fact the instigator, and he was simply acting in self-defense. If convicted on the assault charges the defendant could face serious penalties including a prison sentence.
Self-defense is defined as a person's right to prevent force by means of counteracting force. The amount of force considered acceptable in a self-defense case depends entirely on the circumstances. For example, if an attacker is using deadly force it is generally appropriate for a person to defend himself or herself with deadly force. If the amount of force used in the defense, however, far exceeds that of the perceived threat, the defense is not justified.
Article: NJ.com, "Trenton man charged with machete assault outside bar," Jenna Pizzi, April 18, 2013