What Constitutes Self-Defense?

One of the most basic rights you have as an American is the right to defend yourself from harm. That’s why self-defense, while complicated, can be a valid defense under specific circumstances. When a person commits a crime and claims self-defense, they must prove that the amount of force they used to defend themselves was reasonable or that they were really defending themselves or another individual from getting seriously injured or killed.

Using self-defense in a criminal defense strategy is fairly common. However, the specific laws on how you can protect yourself and the force you are lawfully permitted to use are complex.

What Exactly is Self-Defense?

Broadly speaking, self-defense involves protecting yourself, another individual, or your property from someone who poses imminent serious injury or death. The main principle behind claiming self-defense is that if your actions were justified after you were provoked or threatened, then your reaction to the provocation or threat can’t be considered unlawful and criminal. Self-defense can also be used when defending another individual.

In this situation, your actions would be considered lawful if the individual you were defending had the right to defend themselves and your actions meet the elements of self-defense. This means that your actions were lawful and reasonable, even if you have committed assault, battery, or homicide if the following applies to your case:

  • You reasonably believed you were in immediate danger of getting killed or seriously injured.
  • You reasonably believed it was necessary to use force to protect yourself, your property, or another individual from harm.
  • You used reasonable force to eliminate the threat against you.

If these elements apply to your case and you can prove it, then your actions will be considered lawful. In addition, any individual using necessary force within their property that may result in serious injury or death to another individual who enters their property intending to commit a crime is presumed to be reasonably fearful of imminent injury or death to themselves. They are also not legally required to retreat before using force against someone intent on harming them. This is known as the stand your ground law.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense while protecting yourself, your property, or another individual, and your case heads to trial, the jury must determine whether another reasonable person would have had the same fears you had under similar circumstances and your use of force was suitable for the situation. However, there isn’t a universal standard for what’s reasonable, so the jury must also evaluate the specific facts of your case to determine whether your actions were justified.

Reach Out to an Experienced Forsyth County Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you need legal guidance after getting charged with an offense because you acted in self-defense, the Forsyth County criminal defense attorney at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland is ready to help. Self Defense is an Affirmative Defense, which means you have to claim it and put the prosecution on notice that you plan to assert it. Failure to follow the requirements in asserting it could waive your right to argue it. You can learn more about your case and your best options by scheduling your case evaluation with our Forsyth County criminal defense attorney. Take action today by completing our online form.