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What circumstances affect self-defense claims?

Whether you live in Missouri or Texas, you have the right to defend yourself from imminent danger. That is why most courts will hear a self-defense plead when it is presented to them. However, self-defense laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so you should check the laws of your own area and consult your attorney before going forward with any type of defense.

What courts look for in self-defense cases

Under criminal law, your attorney simply stating that self-defense was your only option is not enough for the courts to be convinced. The courts will look at all the evidence and figure out if an imminent threat was present. For example, someone saying offensive words at you is not an imminent threat. However, if that person says those same words and then points a gun at you, that would be considered an imminent threat. In addition, once the assault has ended, you no longer have the right to pursue that person and harm them. At that point, it is no longer self-defense.

Duty of retreat

Although most states are still unsure about this law, it is often taken into consideration. Duty of retreat means that you have the duty to attempt to escape the situation you perceive to be dangerous before taking drastic and often violent action. It could look very bad in court if you stood around waiting for the situation to become dangerous.

The castle doctrine

If you believe that someone is entering your home to harm you, most states allow homeowners to use deadly force to protect their property and their family. Of course, each jurisdiction has its own rules regarding this type of self-defense. For example, the entry must be unlawful in that you didn’t invite this person onto your property.

If you were involved in an incident where self-defense was warranted, it is still important to consult with an attorney. The fact is that prosecutors or the other party’s attorneys will likely attempt to paint you as the aggressor. Having legal representation is extremely important to ensure that your rights are protected in court.

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