Mutual Combat

Mutual CombatCalifornia Mutual Combat Explained by San Diego Criminal Defense Attorneys

Mutual Combat is a limit placed on Self Defense. Essentially, a person who engages in Mutual Combat only has a right to use Self Defense if he stops fighting, indicates that he or she wants to stop fighting, and gave his or her opponent a chance to stop fighting.  Mutual Combat is where a fight begins because of mutual consent or agreement whether implied or express.

Burden of Proof

When Substantial Evidence supports a theory of Mutual Combat and Self Defense, the government has the burden of showing the act of Mutual Combat was not in Self Defense.


  • During a fight, calling out a desire to stop the fight.
  • After a fight cools down asking for a truce.

Case Law

If the defendant started the fight using non-deadly force and the opponent suddenly escalated the fight to deadly force, the defendant may defend himself or herself using deadly force.  (People v. Quach (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 294, 301-302.)

Jury Considerations

A person who engages in Mutual Combat or who starts a fight has a right to Self Defense only where

  1. He or she actually and in good faith tried to stop fighting;
  2. He or she indicated, by words or conduct, to the opponent in a way that a reasonable person would understand that he or she wanted to stop fighting;
  3. He or she gave the opponent a chance to stop fighting.

Where the defendant used only non-deadly force, the opponent responded with such sudden and deadly force that the defendant could not withdraw from the fight, then the defendant had the right to defend himself or herself with deadly force and was not required to try to stop fighting or communicate the desire to stop fighting.

Learn More …

If you or a loved one are accused of a San Diego Criminal Offense and the Crime was committed during Mutual Combat, give our Self Defense Attorneys a call for a Free Analysis by calling 619-708-2073 or emailing us at

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Scott Hullinger, Esq.

Scott Hullinger, Esq.

San Diego Criminal & Civil Attorney

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