Self defense or defense of others

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A person has the right to use force to defend himself, herself, or another person under certain circumstances. If a person acts in self-defense or in the defense of others, that person’s actions are justified. If this defense is raised, the prosecution has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. That said, however, certain requirements must be met before the court will give a jury instruction on this defense.

First, the defendant must have had an honest and reasonable belief that self defense or the defense of another was necessary due to an imminent threat under the circumstances. If the defendant’s belief was honest and reasonable, he or she could act at once, even if it turns out later that the defendant was wrong about how much danger that person was in.

Secondly, the defendant can’t go overboard in the degree of force used for self defense or defense of another. A person is only justified if he or she uses an appropriate degree of force against the threat for only as long as it seemed necessary at the time for protection.

Finally, the defendant must not have been engaged in the commission of a crime at the time that person acted. Nor may the defendant have acted wrongfully in bringing about the assault. Otherwise the defense is lost.

In judging the case, the fact finder will consider all the evidence to decide whether the defendant acted lawfully. Consideration will be made on whether there were any other ways of protecting one’s self or protecting another. Or whether the defendant or the alleged victim is a hothead. The fact finder may also consider how the excitement of the moment affected the choice made and the use of force imposed. One benefit of this defense is that the the defendant’s conduct must be judged according to how the circumstances appeared to the defendant at the time he or she acted.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need quality representation from an experienced attorney who will aggressively defend your rights. You must pick an attorney with whom you trust. Give us call and see if we are the right firm for you.*

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