I’ve Been Charged with a Violent Crime — Can I Claim Self-Defense?

- Lotze Mosley

Dealing with criminal charges is no small matter. With any crime, there is never a guaranteed end result. That is especially true with complex and violent charges, such as murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

When dealing with these types of charges, there are a number of options available to your legal defense. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, one of those options may be self-defense. This refers to a person’s right to protect his or herself from physical harm through sufficient use of counteracting force.

Understanding Self-Defense in Violent Crimes

Although self-defense is a universally accepted principal in the legal sector, it does raise several questions when it’s applied to actual situations, including:

  • What qualifies as a sufficient degree of violence or force when defending oneself?
  • What exceeds that acceptable level?
  • What if the person intended to be the victim actually provoked the attack?
  • Is a victim required to attempt to retreat from the violence?
  • What happens when a victim reasonably perceives a threat that, in fact, does not exist?
  • IS the victim’s apprehension subjectively genuine?
  • Is the victim’s apprehension objectively reasonable?

As a result, it’s clear to see that self-defense can be far more complicated than it appears. To help address the myriad of situations where self-defense may be used, states across the country have developed and enforced rules that dictate when self-defense is acceptable. This includes classifying the degree of force a victim may lawfully use to protect his or herself.

It’s important to note that, while these rules differ on a state-by-state basis, the considerations remain largely the same.

When Self-Defense Is Justifiable

There is one general rule regarding self-defense – the force is only justifiable when it comes in response to an imminent threat. It does not matter if the threat is verbal or physical – if it makes the victim immediately fearful of physical harm, force may be justified.

Self-defense may also be justified in cases where the aggressor did not intend to harm the perceived victim. Ultimately this boils down to one thing – whether or not a “reasonable person” involved in the same situation would have perceived the same imminent threat of physical harm. This is generally the legal system’s best way of determining whether or not an individual’s perception of danger justified the use of force in their defense.

Have you or someone you know been accused or charged with a violent crime, despite acting in self-defense? If so, it is critical that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Defending Against Violent Crime Charges

Generally, these types of cases come down to the skills and advocacy of the attorneys involved, so if you are claiming self-defense, it is important that you have a qualified attorney. That’s where the criminal defense attorneys at Lotze Mosley, LLP can help.

We have a great deal of experience when it comes to defending against violent crime charges, including cases involving self-defense, and can work with you to devise a legal strategy that secures the best possible results. To get started, we welcome your call today at (202) 393-0535 to schedule an initial consultation with our legal team.