If someone is accused of murder or assault, they can claim self defense if they believed that they were in fear for their life. A person charged with a violent crime often uses this defense, and in its use, they admit to the crime, but claim that their actions were justifiable. Self-defense is appropriately used in cases where the suspect was physically attacked, or they witness an attack, and as long as they did not attack first.
Where Self Defense is Justified
A person must believe that force is the only way to prevent further danger, and they must not use more force than necessary. In some cases, a self-defense claim does not require a physical attack; the suspect only needs to show that they were in fear for their safety. A person claiming self defense must prove that they made an effort to retreat before using force.
When Self Defense is not Appropriate
Even if a person is under attack, there are certain instances where self-defense is not appropriate.
Excessive and/or unreasonable force cannot be used
Where state law requires the suspect to flee before defending himself or herself
Where the suspect instigated the fight
Where the attack has ended and danger is no longer imminent. For instance, a person cannot later find and assault someone who previously assaulted them.
Self-defense is an appropriate defense in cases of attack by animals. As long as your state’s rules are followed, self-defense can be used in cases where animals are killed, regardless of their domesticity. Property and home owners can legally defend their property; if a thief is inside your home, danger is likely imminent and there is no duty for you to retreat. Many states have “stand your ground” laws that allow homeowners to protect themselves and their assets without the duty to flee.
Assault and murder are some of the most serious criminal charges, and suspects should not try to act as their own legal counsel. If you need to claim self-defense, a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Madison WI can help you form a strategy and plead your case. Visit Gregwrightlaw.com for help in scheduling a consultation. Like us on Facebook.