Self-defense is a broad term used to describe a person’s use of force including deadly force to protect themselves from an active threat or attack. self-defense can also describe the use of force to protect one’s property from an ongoing robbery or burglary.
Defense of others also falls under self-defense principles if the person using such force is doing so to protect or aid a third party from an active attack.
In order for the defense to become applicable in criminal law, the defendant must be charged with a crime of assault, battery or murder and then raise self-defense as a justification for their actions. self-defense can also apply in civil lawsuits when a defendant is being sued for assault, battery or wrongful death.
Each state recognizes some form of self-defense and defense of others. Variations occur when it comes to location of the crime, such as a the defendant’s home versus the street, and whether the defendant must take certain precautions before using force to defend themselves.
A legal self-defense applies when the following factors are met:
Some states require the defendant to retreat or run away from the attacker before using deadly force to stop the attack. In states that require a duty to retreat, some do not require such a duty if the attack occurs inside the defendant’s home by an outside assailant.
However, a duty to retreat only applies if a safe escape exists to the defendant and they knew or should have known of its existence at the time of the attack.
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Standing one’s ground is the opposite of the duty to retreat. In some states, a defendant need not retreat before using force including deadly force; rather they may stand their ground and defend themselves with the same force applied by their attacker. In such states, the defendant may even stand their ground in a public place.
Yes. You can use self-defense against an attack by some else’s dog for example. You can also use self-defense against wild animals as long as all applicable steps are followed.
But self-defense against another person’s pet will have similar steps to self-defense against another person. The animal must be the instigator and that you did not use overly lethal force. If the animal was simply growling, then taking a deadly weapon and hitting it with intent to kill would not be considered self-defense.
If you saw the animal attacking another person, then you have every right to step in for the defense of the other person. If you followed the steps for self-defense outlined above, then the pet owner will be limited in suing you for injuring or killing their pet.
Yes. The following circumstances may prevent a defendant from using a legal self-defense:
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is highly recommended. If you have been charged with a crime in which you believe was only committed in self-defense, a local criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights, the applicable law in your state and prepare the evidence needed to prove your claim.
Last Modified: 06-24-2018 06:17 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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