That was a good post and thread and it was well written containing some good examples and reasoning.
However the plea of self defense is not an absolute right. Courts can rule that the plea of self defense cannot be asserted that if both the case of the prosecution and the defendant, on all the evidence, fails if believed to be true, to meet the minimum standard of facts, which even if believed, as a matter of law would not constitute self defense.
Once there is enough to justify self defense as a plea, the standard of of proof does change and the defendant can prevail with a preponderance of evdence, but prosecution has the duty to prove beyond any reasonable doubt.
The author says in the beginning:
"A first point to remember is that self-defense is considered a justification for using force. It is a defense to a criminal charge such as assault, battery, assault with a deadly weapon/implement or murder. In response to one of these charges the defense would be to plead not guilty and claim self-defense".
The not guilty plea would be made at arraingment, but the right to claim selfdefense must be supported by evidence, and sometimes even the prosecutions allegations alone may justify the plea.
The duty to retreat does make it difficult at times to interpret and execute what would constitute a proper response to impending attacks.
In the case that I reported here some time ago, Roberta Schaffer, was given a life sentence when she shot her dangerous estranged and alcoholic husband after he threatened to kill her and their kids, chasing them down the stairs of their basement home, because there was an outside door leading out of the basement,because the court had the to make this sentence based upon what Massachusetts law on the duty to retreat required.
She was pardoned by a later governor and the law of home self defense lessened the duty to retreat, and I am sure that you are well aware of that.
But in the final analysis, we can ponder and try to come up with a set of facts or fact where the first actual strike is a justifiable grounds of self defense and it will still come down to what were all the facts in the circumstances.
I know that I could not make a certain confident decision in the miliseconds that it takes for the brain to sort out if I see a man coming at me with a club raised over his head when I know that my strike must come first.
He did a good job of presenting some of the scenarios, and his examples were good common sense, but as we all know, were not dealing with an exact science.
Thanks for the thread, and it would be well for people who read these MA forums to read.