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Can you throw the first punch and be found not guilty of assault?

Mark Vasquez was leaving an Orange County nightclub at 2am and made an insulting remark to his friends about a Marine who was also leaving. The Marine, Alex Martinez, took offense, and confronted Vasquez. That’s when the criminal violence began.

Martinez started bouncing around like a boxer, and Vasquez felt threatened. Vasquez threw the first punches and knocked out Martinez. Because Martinez was drinking heavily that night, his blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.29. As Martinez fell, he banged his head badly, and was hospitalized in critical condition. Fortunately, Martinez has recovered since this incident and is back on active duty.

Criminal law defines assault as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury to another person. Vasquez told the police that he was afraid. He told them why he felt threatened, and exactly what had happened. The police arrested him for assault, citing an “unprovoked attack.” If found guilty, Vasquez could have faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

After a criminal trial, the jury found Vasquez not guilty of assault. His criminal defense attorney agreed with the verdict, adding: “He was innocent of this crime.”

Whether your case is domestic violence, DUI, assault, or any other criminal activity, remember that anything you say to police will be used against you in a court of law. Don’t say anything to police until you have called Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088. Her office is located in Irvine, California and is freeway close. Please visit for more information.

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