General Laws on the Right to Self Defense

Sure, the idea of self defense may seem pretty logical and clear cut. However, the truth is many people worry about whether their act of defense will be legally viewed as appropriate self defense or not. While this may not matter much in the midst of a violent attack, it can make a big difference if the case goes to court. In fact, victims can even be convicted of crimes if the judge finds their act against an attacker wasn’t self defense!

What The Self Defense Law Says….

In most states, the law states a person can use proportionate and necessary force if they believe an unlawful force is being or is about to be used on them. Basically, if the self defense force is thought to be used to prevent the user from being harmed or killed, it’s ok. However, the force used in self defense must be seen as being necessary to prevent the attack and it must be in proportion to the possible attacking force.

For example, if someone felt they were about to be hit with a basketball and they pulled out a gun and shot the attacker, the self defense would not be seen as proportionate. After all, was it really necessary to shoot the person who was about to throw the basketball? Probably not.

Of course, if someone pulls out a gun and says they are going to shoot the victim then the victim could shoot them first in self defense and the act of self defense would be seen as proportionate.

This being said, it is illegal in the United States to intentionally hurt another person. All in all, even if you stab or kill someone out of self defense and don ’t deny you did, you will likely find yourself in a trial. However, if you can prove there was legal justification for self defense at the time you will not be punished. This is where your attorney’s job comes into play. They must help you establish your burden of proof for justification.

Provoked Attacks

While self defense can be used as justification in many cases, a victim can’t claim self defense if they provoked or encouraged the initial attack. The law in most states is similar in the fact it does not see words alone as being provocation, but there are some exceptions to this. If someone threatens violence with a weapon and there is good reason to suspect they possess the weapon, things may get tricky.

The Case For Self Defense

Self defense experts don’t want people to NOT act out in their own defense for fear of legal implications after the fact. They still feel a victim has a better chance of surviving an attack if they throw the first blow or immediately gain the upper hand with some sort of self defense. This is often seen as being pre-emptive self defense and is often seen as being completely legal.

Again, acting out in self defense can be your one and only way to survive if you’re about to be attacked or are in the midst of an attack. Always be prepared to protect yourself. To avoid lengthy legal trouble, it’s best to protect yourself with non-life threatening items like pepper spray. With pepper spray and other self defense products not meant to permanently disable the attacker, you can get to safety quickly and not be charged for a crime.