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Classification of SELF DEFENSE CASES

To provide some legal self help and practical information regarding various self defense cases, we'll take a "simplified" look at national trends towards self defense under most conditions in most state jurisdictions.

As with any legal matter, state laws and mitigating circumstances vary. So take this as very general information in regards to civil and criminal matters and the use of force in defense of self and property. Disclaimer

Self Defense Cases

  • Self Defense Using Non-Lethal Force
  • Self Defense Using Lethal Force
  • Defense of Property
  • Assault and Battery
  • Important Points To Remember

    Got self defense tips or a story about self defense cases?

    Self Defense Cases Using Non-Lethal Force:

    Get your TASER C2 Today! Generally, criminal law allows for the use of proportionate and necessary non-deadly force in self-defense anytime the victim reasonably believes that unlawful force is about to be used on him.

    The guideline and the important language to be noted is reasonably believes, unlawful, necessary, proportionate and about to.

    A majority of jurisdictions allow the use of force; including deadly force, in resisting an attack by a person that is not known to be a police officer.

    The use of non-deadly force in some jurisdictions is allowable against a known police-officer attempting to make a wrongful arrest. In other jurisdictions, this is allowed only if the police officer does not identify him/herself.

    Self Defense Cases Using Lethal Force

    As you would expect, the standard for the use of deadly force is higher than for non-lethal. Criminal law generally allows for the use of deadly force anytime a faultless victim reasonably believes that unlawful force which will cause death or grievous bodily harm is about to be used on him.

    Again, it is important to note the key words in the standard.

    Defense of Property

    In many jurisdictions, a victim will have the right to use non-lethal force in defense of his dwelling when he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent or terminate an intruder's unlawful entry or attack upon his dwelling.

    Deadly force is authorized when violent entry is made or attempted and the victim reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent an attack on his person.

    It may also be authorized when a victim reasonably believes that lethal force is necessary to prevent entry into the dwelling by someone who plans to commit a felony therein.

    The rationale for allowing self-defense in these scenarios is based upon the right of persons to be secure in their homes, rather than the right to defend property. Therefore, this law would generally not be applicable regarding defense of uninhabited property.

    Assault and Battery

    Assault could be described as the creation of reasonable apprehension of impending battery, in the victim. Simple fear is not enough.

    The aggressor must have the ability to bring about such contact. The victim must actually expect to be struck or touched. The fact that the victim may not be the least bit afraid does not negate the crime.

    Words alone are generally not sufficient to support an action for assault, but words coupled with some act may be enough. As an example, shaking your fist and threatening with words may well constitute assault. A conditional threat such as give me your money or your life may also be sufficient to support an assault charge. With assault or battery charges, no actual damage needs to result for the charge to be valid.

    Battery may be described as harmful or offensive contact with the plaintiff's body, and that the aggressor intended to bring about such contact, and that the actions of the aggressor caused the contact.

    While harmful contact is can be determined from the specifics of the situation, offensive contact is judged by the reasonable person standard which is more objective.

    Important Points Regarding Self Defense Cases

  • Try to avoid physical confrontation. Use a safe avenue of retreat any time there is one.

  • Use only the amount of force necessary to deter the attack.

  • Make sure that you are not seen as the aggressor. This does not mean you have to take the first hit, but rather being certain that physical contact is imminent prior to reacting.

  • If confrontation is inevitable, give a warning when defending property, unless doing so would be dangerous or futile (which is often the case). Simply give the aggressor notice that you intend to use force against him in order to allow him to retreat.

  • Be aware of the aggravating and mitigating factors. Is there a age, size, or ability difference? Are you or the attacker armed or trained? All of these factors will help you determine the appropriate level of force and how the crime will be interpreted in a court of law.

  • After the initial threat is neutralized, stop. This doesn't mean that you have to give your opponent a fighting chance. Just immobilize the attacker while awaiting the police, but do no further damage.

  • When intervening on behalf of a third party, ensure as much as possible that the intervention is justified and necessary.

  • In The United States, human rights are superior to property rights. The use of force in the protection of property is very risky.

    Any Tips Or Stories About Self-Defense?

    Do You Have A Story You Could Share?

    If you've got story to tell about a legal challenge you've faced, please take a minute to share it. I'm sure that there's someone it could help in some way.

    Return to Home Page from Self Defense Cases


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