It is universally accepted that a person may protect themselves and others from harm, even if that means committing a crime against another person who is trying to hurt them. This concept of self defense criminal law is allowed as a defense in every stated as well as by the federal government.
If you are being accused of a violent crime and you were actually just trying to protect yourself or others, contact an attorney who can protect your rights today. Call Hoeller & McLaughlin PLLC at (877) 208-3382.
What Is Self Defense?
Self defense is a defense that you might use against charges that you committed a violent crime against another person. Through this claim, you are saying that you used an appropriate level of counterforce against the violence that another person was using against you.
Although the concept may seem simple, it raises may questions, including:
- What is “appropriate force”?
- What goes beyond the sufficient level of counterforce?
- What if the victim provoked the attack?
- Should victims have to retreat if possible?
- What constitutes an actual threat?
These are all questions that must be answered when raising self defense if you have been accused or charged of a violent crime. It can be difficult to gather the evidence necessary to support your case for this type of claim. You should always work with a criminal defense attorney to make sure your voice is heard.
Determining Who Started a Fight
A self defense claim is not generally valid if you started the fight; however, there are exceptions. A person who provokes another may not be able to claim self defense in all situations.
Verbal altercations are not uncommon between a husband and wife. However, if she slaps him and he grabs a knife, she might be able to use self defense if she also grabs a knife to defend herself. In this case, the husband escalated the situation and did not simply use similar counterforce to defend himself.
Is the Response Reasonable?
One question that must be determined in a self defense claim is whether or not the counterforce was “reasonable.” In the example with the husband and wife, it is not likely that a court would find the husband’s use of a knife to be reasonable against a slap. However, the wife grabbing a knife in defense of the husband’s knife is more reasonable.
Is The Threat Imminent?
Self defense is typically only an acceptable claim if there is an imminent threat to you or someone else. A threat may be verbal, but it must create the imminent fear of physical harm. Offensive words without accompanying imminent threat do not justify a person to use force and make a valid claim of self defense.
Additionally, force may not be used against someone else if the threat has ended. For example, if a person assaults a victim and then leaves the scene, there is no longer any imminent threat of violence. The danger has ended. Thus, force against the original assailant would not be justified as self defense.
Deadly Force in Self Defense
The use of deadly force in self defense is often considered in a different category completely. Deadly force is “force likely to kill or seriously injury someone.” Deadly force may only be used by a victim if the aggressor originally used deadly force and the victim reasonably feared for their own life.
A victim may also use deadly force if:
- If a defendant has a gun or other deadly weapon, or
- If a defendant was causing or threatening to cause serious injury or death.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help
Many self defense claims are used in domestic violence or other violent crimes cases. If you are a victim and someone is accusing you, contact Hoeller & McLaughlin PLLC at (877) 208-3382. We will listen to your story and develop the best defense strategy for you.