If you were involved in a fight and injured or killed someone in self-defense, things can get murky very quickly though. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, concepts such as “stand your ground,” the “castle doctrine,” and reasonableness can tip the scales toward guilt or innocence in your case. You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself.
Allow the dedicated Baltimore self-defense attorneys from the Law Offices of Randolph Rice to help you prove your innocence in your self-defense case. They can put years of experience to use to take all of the conditions surrounding your case into account and build a solid argument for your defense. Connect with them soon to schedule a free consultation. You can do so by calling (410) 694-7291 or by paying a visit to their website.
Building a case for self-defense relies on a few overarching concepts. The concepts that factor into a decision on guilt or innocence regarding a self-defense case include the following considerations and theories:
In order for an assault committed in self-defense to be considered legitimate, it must be done as a response to an imminent threat. An imminent threat is either the immediate use of force against you or a threat that implies force will be used against you. Aggressive or angry language does not automatically qualify as a threat, though. Attacks committed as self-defense are only legal as long as the threat is active. If an attack happens after a threat is no longer active, then the attack is considered to be retaliation, not self-defense.
Acts of defense that are committed out of fear must be considered part of what a “reasonable” person would do under the same circumstances. If the defendant’s response is not considered the response that a reasonable person would have done, but it is clear that the defendant did truly fear harm, then their response is known as “imperfect self-defense.” Imperfect self-defense cannot be used as a complete defense for the crime, but it is common for it to be used to lessen charges or penalties brought against the defendant, depending on the state.
For self-defense to be fully justified, the defendant’s response must match the degree of harm that was threatened against them. A person who is defending themselves should only use as much force as is required to remove the threat facing them. This means that deadly force can be met with deadly force in return, but you generally cannot escalate the force. If someone attacks you with their bare hands, it is commonly considered disproportionate force to use a weapon. It is also vital to remember that, when resorting to a weapon, it is important to use a legal weapon in self-defense. Check local and state laws to learn whether weapons like knives, pepper spray, self-defense tools, or handguns are legal for you to carry.
Duty to Retreat and “Stand Your Ground” Laws
Some states require a person to attempt to escape the threat coming at them before they apply deadly force for it to be considered legal self-defense. This duty to retreat been done away with in many states in favor of “stand your ground” laws. Maryland is a duty to retreat state. This means that if it is possible for someone to safely remove themselves from the threat, then they cannot claim self-defense.
States that do not have a duty to retreat law are known as “stand your ground” states. Maryland does not have stand your ground laws. Stand your ground states do not require people that perceive a threat to leave the premises before defending themselves. Instead, they are able to stand their ground and defend themselves, even if it means using deadly force to defend against deadly force.
The “castle doctrine” means that someone is able to use deadly force against a person that enters their home unlawfully. The castle doctrine supersedes the doctrine of proportional force when there is an intruder in one’s home. It also means that there is no duty to retreat in your own home. Whether a burglar appears to be using deadly force or not, you should be able to respond with deadly force against intruders within your home. This does not typically allow you to shoot at people outside your house or to shoot through your door.
Defense of Others
Under the doctrine of self-defense, a person is able to harm someone posing a threat if someone else is in harm’s way. There are four requirements that must be met for a valid claim of defense of others. First, the defendant must have truly believed that the person that they were defending was in imminent danger. Second, the defendant must have been reasonable in their belief that the other person was in harm’s way. Third, the defendant must have used force proportional to the risk that was posed. Finally, the force the defendant used must have been intended to protect the person they were defending.
Call Our Baltimore Assault Defense Lawyer for Help with Self-Defense Claims
Self-defense cases can be difficult to prove. Requirements are nuanced, and identifying the defendant’s motivation can be complicated for a judge or jury. Get help from one of the Baltimore self-defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice. Call (410) 694-7291 to learn more about creating a defense for you in your self-defense case or just set up a time for a free consultation to learn more about self-defense laws in Maryland.