You hear a sudden noise, and you wake up in the middle of the night. You hear footsteps. Someone had broken into your home. Your heart starts beating faster, and you wonder what you should do next.
Anyone of us could face the situation mentioned above. Crime is on the increase; and because of fear, many people choose to protect themselves by acquiring a weapon or learning some form of martial arts. In many countries, governments have passed laws that allow individuals the right to defend themselves or their loved ones under appropriate circumstances. There are valid circumstances when self-defense can be justified. We have the right to protect ourselves and our loved ones from aggression and deadly harm. But what is self-defense? What are the laws that govern it?
What is Self-Defense?
Self-defense is a legal term defined as the use of force to defend oneself. Such use of force is necessary to protect oneself because of a reasonable belief that the other party intends to inflict bodily harm or death. It can also be applied to a person’s right to defend his property, such as his home, and the person is protected under the “castle doctrine”. Self-defense can be classified as a perfect or imperfect defense.
When Can I Use Self-Defense?
Self-defense is applicable if the physical or verbal threat to harm is immediate. On the other hand, the use of offensive or hurtful words that do not pose any threat or physical harm does not justify the use of self-defense. Moreover, if a person threatens to execute violence in the future (threats), then this does not justify the perceived victim’s use of self-defense. Self-defense cannot also be justified once the danger has ended.
Another critical component that makes self-defense permissible is known as the “reasonable fear of harm”. If the person who threatened another individual is not capable of committing a crime, then the self-defense is not reasonable.
How much violence can a person inflict on an aggressor using self-defense? The use of force using self-defense must warrant a proportional response. For example, if the aggressor threatens to inflict bodily harm or deadly force, you are in a reasonable position to use deadly force to defend yourself or your loved ones. However, if the imminent threat is minor, you are not allowed to use deadly force.
Many states in the US require that a person using self-defense must attempt to escape before he or she can apply deadly force. This rule is also known as a “duty to retreat”. However, most states have removed this rule.
The laws that govern self-defense are, at times, complicated and difficult to understand. These laws may also vary from country to country and differ depending on the jurisdiction. Despite this, the article was able to discuss a general overview of the concept of self-defense. You can also do some personal research about the laws in your location, or you may wish to speak to an experienced attorney to fully understand the specific requirements for a claim of self-defense.