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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Self-Defense Is Not Always Self Explanatory

Self-defense has been a commonly used defense in legal dramas for years. Whether it’s for simple assault, aggravated assault or even murder, defendants often assume they can allege self-defense and that since it’s their word against the plaintiff’s, it will be easy to convince a jury that they were in the right. The reality is, however, that even if you were just defending yourself, it will take a lot of convincing to prove things actually had to escalate to the point of physical aggression. You need an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney to help you paint an accurate and convincing picture of the events surrounding the incident.

With increased controversy surrounding laws like “stand your ground,” it may be more difficult than ever to convince a jury that your actions were warranted. Some of the common ways to invalidate your self-defense claim include:

Returning to the Scene of the Incident
Once the situation is over, it’s over. If it is revealed that you pursued your alleged attacker after the situation was diffused, it will be very hard to prove you were in imminent danger, rather than just frustrated or spoiling for a fight.

You Were the One Who Initiated the Altercation
The phrase “They started it!” often holds up very well in the courtroom. Even though you might not have anticipated the results, if you were the one to inflame the situation, you could be on the wrong side of the self-defense argument.

Disproportionate Force
If somebody pushes you or gets in your face, it’s hard to prove that beating them repeatedly on the head until they’re unconscious is appropriate or justified. If it is found that your means of “protecting yourself” were extreme in comparison with the threat, self-defense can easily be disproven.

If you plan to argue self-defense in your criminal defense case, the first thing you have to do is figure out whether you have a valid claim. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you figure that out, as well as how to move forward.

Contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty about your South Jersey criminal charges. Mr. Tumelty has three conveniently located offices and offers free consultations, in person or via phone. He will also visit you in jail, when necessary. Call today.

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