Self-defense and the defense of others are two doctrines that can be used when a person believes they are justified in committing a criminal act. Although the U.S. legal system usually discourages the use of violence and force against other people, the courts also recognize that everyone has the right to protect themselves and others. Read on to learn how a Criminal Attorney in South Windsor CT can help a client with a self-defense case.
An Imminent Threat
For the defense of others and self-defense, the threat a person faces must be imminent in that it puts the defendant (or the one being defended) in immediate fear of harm. This is typically accomplished with a show of force or words implying the threat of force. However, offensive language isn’t enough to support a self-defense claim. Furthermore, these defenses are only available while a threat is ongoing. After the threat ends, it’s no longer appropriate to use force. This would be an act of retaliation, not self-defense.
Along with an imminent threat, the defense of others and self-defense requires that the fear causing the show of force was reasonable. Fear is measured against the reasonable person standard, which asks how a reasonable, ordinary person would act in the same situation. When a defendant’s response fails to meet the standard, but they did fear harm, it’s known as imperfect self-defense. In these cases, the defendant would face lesser charges and a lighter punishment.
Defense of others or of self-requires that the force used by the defendant is proportional to the threat faced. This is especially important in cases involving deadly force, as a defendant may not use deadly force in response to a non-lethal threat. For instance, if the defendant may be punched during a fight, they can’t respond by shooting the other person. However, if the defendant believes they’re about to be shot and they shoot back, it’s considered self-defense.
Some jurisdictions have caveats to these rules. One is the duty to retreat. Here, the state requires the defendant to attempt to avoid the use of force by leaving the situation. The other is the stand your ground law, which allows a person to use reasonable force without the duty to retreat as long as the attack occurs in the home. Visit Kahan Kerensky and Capossela LLP or call to schedule a consultation with a Criminal Attorney in South Windsor CT.