You have a right to defend yourself against imminent danger to your life or well-being. Therefore, you are justified to use force to protect yourself when someone attacks you or puts you in fear for your safety. That said, a self-defense claim must meet specific criteria to be legally justifiable.
Usually, self-defense is used as an affirmative defense in violent crimes like murder, assault and battery. By claiming self-defense, you acknowledge that an unlawful act occurred but was reasonable under the circumstances. Here is more on the same.
The elements of a self-defense claim
In most instances, you cannot claim self-defense if you provoked the attack. However, there are exceptions to this. If the other person responded with excessive force or continued with the attack after you withdrew, you may defend yourself appropriately.
The threat or danger to your well-being must be imminent or about to happen. Should you respond much later when there was no risk to your safety, it is considered retaliatory and is unlawful. In addition, the fear of harm must be reasonable. Unthreatening words or unintended actions cannot meet the threshold of using force in self-defense.
Your response in self-defense must also be proportional to the aggressor’s actions. For instance, you cannot be acting in self-defense if you use excessive or lethal force against a minor threat to your safety.
Get help with your criminal case
If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense involving violent acts, it is advisable to seek qualified and experienced legal representation.
An informed counsel will review the facts of your case and help assert your self-defense claim if applicable. This could help absolve you from any criminal or civil liability and increase the odds of getting a desirable verdict.