Self-defense might seem like a self-explanatory concept, but many pitfalls can hinder your self-defense claims. Fortunately, the attorneys at Sieben Edmunds Miller are experienced and knowledgeable in the area of self-defense. It is critical to contact an attorney immediately if you are charged with a crime where you acted in self-defense.
What is self-defense?
Self-defense is broadly stated as using reasonable force in resisting an offense or you reasonably believed an offense was going to happen against you or someone else. However, this definition does not paint the whole picture of the borders of a self-defense claim. There are additional elements that must be met before you can claim self-defense.
The first thing you should know is that you cannot provoke the incident or be the aggressor. This might sound simple enough to understand, but it can get complicated. You must have acted in a reactionary manner to someone you reasonably believed was going to cause an offense against you. Furthermore, if you do fight back and the initial aggressor stops fighting or does something where it shows they are done with the altercation, then you must also stop. If you do not stop, you are now the aggressor, and self-defense might not be a defense anymore. There is a very fine line going from not being the aggressor to becoming the aggressor.
Another complicated part of a self-defense claim is that you must have an actual and honest belief that you were in imminent danger of bodily harm. There are a lot of loaded words in this element such as “imminent danger,” “bodily harm,” and “actual and honest belief.” These words have a specific meaning, so it is important to contact an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in this area of law.
Additionally, you are only allowed to use the level of force reasonably necessary to prevent the harmed feared. This generally means that you cannot use more force than the force that is being done to you. For example, if someone punches you, it might not be reasonable for you to shoot or stab the person who punched you. This could be considered more force than necessary to prevent the harm feared.
Lastly, you have a duty to retreat or to avoid the danger if it is reasonably possible. This might mean walking away from the incident if you can, trying to leave the area, or some other form of retreat. However, typically you do not have a duty to retreat if you are inside your own home.
Why you need a self-defense attorney immediately
As you have just read, self-defense is not as simple as it would seem. There are many pitfalls and ways the prosecution or the police will try to prove it was not self-defense. To protect yourself and prevent charges from turning into life-long consequences, you need the advocacy of experienced and tough self-defense lawyers at Sieben Edmunds Miller. If you are charged with a crime where you believe you acted in self-defense, contact Sieben Edmunds Miller for a free case evaluation.