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What is an Assault Defense Lawyer?

By Daphne Mallory
Updated: May 16, 2024

An assault defense lawyer represents clients who have been charged with assault. Cases may involve misdemeanor assaults or felony assaults. Attorneys also represent clients charged with battery. Assault and battery charges often have jail time as a penalty, and it’s the job of the defense attorney to keep the client out of jail or reduce the amount of time that would otherwise be given if the client is found guilty. In cases where the client will pay a fine if found guilty, the assault defense lawyer often tries to enter into a plea bargain with the prosecutor.

Individuals who attempt to commit battery, which is physical contact with another with the intent to harm them, are often charged with assault. An individual can be charged with assault whether or not there is physical contact. Use of a deadly weapon is not necessary for the incident to be classified as an assault, but if a weapon is used, then it’s sometimes classified as a felony. The job of the assault defense lawyer is to show evidence that there was no intent to cause harm. If the defense attorney can prove that the physical contact would have been accidental and not intentional, he or she may be able to successfully defend the client.

When handling a case, an assault defense lawyer wants to shine the best light on the facts possible to prove his client’s innocence. This is the reason why attorneys often insist that clients contact them before speaking to the police or other investigators. The goal is often to minimize fact findings that would be used against the client later on during a criminal trial. The assault defense attorney may also be able to convince a prosecutor to dismiss charges early on in the process.

A common case involving assault arises from self-defense. The client is charged with assault in an attempt to defend herself from an attack. The assault defense lawyer must often show that the defendant was in fear of imminent bodily harm. For example, if a burglar breaks into a home at night and a defendant strikes the burglar with a baseball bat, then the defendant can raise self-defense as a legal defense. A defense lawyer is often able to negotiate with a prosecutor on such cases and is often able to avoid going to trial altogether.

Attorneys, including assault defense lawyers, are often governed by local boards that can maintain or remove their license to practice law. Any assault defense lawyer who does not comply with ethical standards set by a board in her jurisdiction is at risk of losing her license. A client who can show willful misconduct or severe negligent behavior on the attorney’s part in representing him in an assault case can often cause an attorney to lose his license to practice law.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 09, 2015

@Soulfox -- If you are talking about a small town, a criminal lawyer who only dealt with assault defense probably would go broke in a hurry. You are right that most assault defense lawyers are criminal defense attorneys who don't necessarily have a specialty in defending assault cases.

In large cities, however, a lawyer could probably develop that specialty and find enough work to get by just fine.

By Soulfox — On Feb 08, 2015

That is a very specific kind of lawyer, isn't it? Are there some who do only assault defense? I would think it would be much more likely to find a criminal lawyer that handles all kinds of cases including assault.

I could be wrong, but I just don't see how an attorney who does only assault cases could make enough to pay his or her bills. I just can't imagine there would enough work along those lines for such an attorney.

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