You have a duty to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. If you find yourself in a situation where your safety or someone else’s is threatened, the law allows you to respond to the situation with reasonable force. This is known as self-defense.
California law recognizes your right to defend yourself against the threat of bodily harm. But what exactly does this mean?
Understanding self-defense and use of force
At the very basic, self-defense refers to the use of proportionate force to protect yourself or someone else from imminent harm or danger. In other words, you may use force (if someone is about to physically inflict bodily harm on you. You may cite self-defense if you are charged with a violent crime like domestic violence, assault, homicide and assault with a deadly weapon.
But when exactly can self-defense work for you?
To successfully argue self-defense in your criminal case, the following elements must be satisfied:
- You must reasonably believe that you or someone else is in imminent danger of physical harm
- You must reasonably believe that the use of force is necessary to mitigate the danger in question
- The use of force must be proportionate to the danger in question
- The other party must be the initial aggressor
When facing an imminent danger, it’s human instinct to want to retreat or fight back. If, after fighting back, you are arrested and charged with a violent crime, you need to explore how you can argue self-defense to safeguard your rights.