When is self-defense a defense In an agreed fight depends on the particulars of the case. Self-defense is a defense against being accused of a violent crime. The self-defense argument can be raised if you are forced to hurt or kill someone to protect yourself or someone else. Self-defense does not apply if you are the aggressor in a situation. It does not come into play if you started a fight or other altercation. It also does not apply if you provoked or threatened the other party into a reasonable belief that they had to fight, even if they threw the first punch.
In Oklahoma, unlike some other states, self-defense does not require someone to retreat. You may stand your ground against an aggressor. You may use force to protect yourself and others from death, serious injury, or any violence that would amount to a felony under Oklahoma law.
If I Agreed To Fight, Can I Then Claim Self-Defense?
If you agree to engage in a fight, can you then raise self-defense as a defense if you are charged with a crime resulting from that fight? The simple answer is No.
Oklahoma case law has established that self-defense in an assault case cannot be raised in the case of mutual combat that was voluntarily entered. (Phelps v State, 1938 OK CR 46.) Mutual combat is when a person willingly enters a fight, proceeds to fight, and does this not to protect themselves from an attack but rather to satisfy their desire to fight and inflict injury.
What Is Voluntary v. Willingly
Note that the words “voluntary” and “willingly” are very important here. If a person enters a fight against their will only to protect themselves from an aggressor, it is not a case of mutual combat, and so arguing self-defense may be an option.
Even if you agreed to fight, in limited circumstances, it is possible you could reestablish your right to self-defense. If the fight you agreed to ends, and you are attacked after it has ended, you may be able to reestablish self-defense because you did not agree to the second fight.
If you cannot end the fight, you may be able to reestablish a right to self-defense by trying to end the fight. This would require you to attempt to withdraw from the fight and to clearly communicate to the other person your desire to withdraw from the fight. The other person continuing to attack you makes them an aggressor, and you are a victim of that aggression.
If I Agreed To Fight And I Got Injured, Can I Press Charges?
Whether or not criminal charges are filed against a person is always up to the district attorney. The district attorney will consider many different factors when deciding whether to charge, including who started the fight (who was the aggressor), how much damage was done, who was the assault victim, and whether or not a weapon was used.
Note that mutual combat (or an agreement to fight) is not one of the considerations. Therefore, agreeing to a fight does not preclude the possibility of assault or other charges being filed against either party. However, if the fight was mutually agreed upon, that will be considered when looking at who was the aggressor – likely, there is not one aggressor in a case of mutual combat.
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