Imagine you are hanging out with your loved ones and having a very good time. As you are leaving a venue, a gentleman approaches you complimenting your dress. You thank them, but they move in closer in an attempt to place their hands on you in an inappropriate and sexual manner. You move their hand away before it makes contact and they immediately strike you, “in their defense.” Now, imagine being a friend in this person’s presence, and deciding to step in “in their defense.” Let’s go an extra step and imagine you are the gentleman that gave the initial compliment and moved the other party’s hand away, “in your defense.” Who committed a criminal act here?
Just as law enforcement has a duty to protect and serve the community, it is expected that individuals have a right to protect themselves as well. However, not every defense is reasonable, so it is important to understand what constitutes self-defense or the defense of others, and what does not.
There is a fine line between a premeditated action and reactions to an imminent threat. In a criminal case, in order to use self-defense as a defense, there must be an imminent threat. This means there must have been an instant threat that required an immediate reaction. Revenge, or retaliation cannot be a factor in this example, as it is not immediate if it is a deliberate act.
There must also be a sense of natural and actual fear for your or another person’s life or safety; this is considered reasonable fear. No matter if there was no direct or specific threat made to you, if you are afraid and respond in defense, the courts may consider this to be self-defense as well. Much like the previous example, when approached by a gentleman, the victim pushed the suspect away when they figured the accused were coming to strike them. While the accused may have never placed hands on the victim, she believed he would, and she defended herself. This is not always the easiest to prove, so while reasonable fear can contribute to a self-defense defense, you are likely to have charges lessened if not dropped totally.
There are several loopholes on both a prosecution, and a defense’s end when discussing self-defense. Rather than figure it out on your own, speak with an attorney. If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime and feel you acted in self-defense, be sure to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney, like one from The Lynch Law Group, so that a strong defense can be built for you in the courtroom.