Make no mistake, facing a criminal charge is a big deal. Depending on the nature of the offense, a conviction may mean years or even a lifetime behind bars. Worse still, if you are convicted of killing someone, you might face the death penalty. With the stakes so high, it is important that you figure out how to defend yourself when facing a criminal charge.
One of the defense options you can consider when accused of a violent crime is self-defense. Basically, self-defense means that you used violence or force against someone else in order to protect yourself or another person from imminent danger or harm.
There has to be an imminent threat to justify self-defense
In order to act in self-defense, there has to be an imminent threat that puts the defendant or someone else in fear of immediate harm. Meaning, you cannot claim self-defense for a crime that already took place or you think will happen in the future. Also, if you use force when the threat has passed, then your action may be considered retaliation rather than self-defense. The threat must be ongoing for the self-defense claim to hold.
What it means to be in imminent danger
You are not required by law to sustain an injury before acting in self-defense. In fact, the law does not even require you to be in any danger. Rather, the law focuses on what you reasonably believe under the given set of circumstances. For instance, if a person points a gun at you in a threatening manner, you do not need to check if their gun is loaded to decide whether you are going to act in self-defense. Even if their gun is unloaded, you can act in self-defense under such circumstances because you reasonably believe you are facing imminent danger.
Self-defense is a common defense strategy when dealing with battery, assault or homicide charges. Find out how you can successfully argue self-defense when you are accused of a criminal offense.