Self Defense: A Legal Defense

by | Jul 30, 2015 | Criminal Defense
self defense

Self-Defense can be a very complicated issue, however, it may be a necessary defense in certain situations. If you are a loved one has been charged with a crime in which you were defending yourself or a third party from imminent serious bodily injury or death, please do not hesitate to call The Rodriguez Law Group. We assist those accused of a crime throughout the Los Angeles area.

Self-defense has been the topic of debate for decades. The topic of self-defense is usually focused around two things: (1) Whether the amount of force used to protect oneself was reasonable or not; or (2) Whether someone was truly protecting themselves or a loved one from death or serious bodily injury.

Self-defense is often times a defense that one will attempt to use during a criminal proceeding to justify criminal battery or murder. Though self-defense does not always suffice, there has been several notable cases where self-defense was offered as a defense, such as in the case of Nancy Seaman in 2004 when she killed her abusive husband and in the case of Joan Little in 1974 when she killed a prison guard who was trying to rape her. In these cases self-defense was applied and the defendants were acquitted, however, it is not always that easy. Because of this, it is important to learn the particulars about self-defense and what it entails to fully be able to protect yourself if you are ever faced with an unfortunate circumstance.

What is Self-Defense?

The broad definition of self-defense is protecting one’s self or property from a threat that poses immediate serious bodily injury or death. The theory behind self-defense is that if a person is justified in reacting after being provoked then the reaction cannot be considered a crime. Self-defense can also be considered whenever a person protects another. In this case, a defendant would be justified if the third party would have had the right to self-defense as well as the requisite elements below are met.

What is the Law Behind Self-Defense?

In California, self-defense is defined by California Jury Instructions §§505 and 506. Under this law, homicide, battery, and assault are justifiable and will not result in conviction upon meeting the requisite elements. A defendant is deemed to have acted lawfully if the:

  • Defendant reasonably believed that he/she was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
  • Defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend against that danger; AND
  • Defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to fend against that danger

If all of these elements are met then the defendant will be justified in his/her self-defense. Also, under California’s Penal Code Section 198.5, any person using force within their home that may cause death or serious injury to someone who enters their home with the intent to commit a felony, is presumed to have a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury to themselves or their family. In this case, a person would be justified in using a reasonable amount of force as well.

To learn more, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at 213-995-6767 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.