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How is self-defense defined?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2019 | Violent Crimes |

Self-defense laws vary quite a bit from state to state. That’s why it’s important for people in California to understand their rights and obligations under the law when it comes to defending themselves, their families, and even their homes. ABC10.com offers the following information on pertinent self-defense laws in the state.

California does not have a stand your ground law, which involves the defense of a home when faced with an intruder. The state instead abides by the castle doctrine, which stipulates that a person with a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury can defend his or her home with force. The homeowner must also be aware that the intruder gained entry unlawfully at the time when the person is exerting this force.

There are also laws on record that refer to the justifiable use of homicide in certain situations. The Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions includes CALCRIM instructions #505 and #506, both of which reference self-defense of some form. With #505, the law says homicide is justifiable when a person is defending himself or another, provided that the person has reason to believe that serious harm is imminent. The amount of force used must also be considered reasonable, meaning a person only uses enough force to stop the attack from happening.

The #506 defense is used when a person is defending his or her home. In this case, some of the same stipulations apply, i.e. a person must believe that members of the home are at risk of imminent danger. In both instances, concerns about future harm, meaning the belief that the assailant will come back a future date, is not a sufficient reason to use deadly force against a person. Harm must be believed to be imminent to justify the use of homicide when defending yourself or another person in California.

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