It is not always to be able to tell the degree to which harming someone as a form of self defense is justifiable. Many factors including whether you attempted to retreat from the situation, whether the attack took place within your home or not, and whether you acted in proportion to the threat that was posed determine guilt or innocence in a self defense case.
The attorneys that work at Rice, Murtha & Psoras are prepared to help you build a case for you to defend you against charges incurred while you were defending yourself. Decades of experience allow them to treat all cases with a sense of professionalism and expertise. You can schedule a free consultation if you get in touch with them soon. Call (410) 834-3678 or visit their website today.
Factors in a Self Defense Case
Violence and use of force is discouraged by the American legal system under most normal circumstances. However, the legal system also recognizes an individual’s need to protect themselves against threats of harm, which may require using force to counter a threat. If someone uses force against a person that is threatening them with imminent harm, then they are able to defend and justify their actions as self defense.
When determining guilt or innocence—and subsequent consequences—in a self defense case, there are certain considerations that factor into a decision made by a judge or jury.
Imperfect Self Defense
“Imperfect self defense” is a name given to an act of self defense that is not considered to be what an ordinary person would have done in the situation. When a person acts in an attempt to defend themselves as a result of fear, their actions must be what a “reasonable” person would do. “Reasonable” in this case means that it’s what a “reasonable man of ordinary prudence” would do.
In cases that involve imperfect self defense, the defendant is not able to use self defense to totally justify their actions. However, they are able to use imperfect self defense to decrease the severity of charges or punishment brought against them.
Stand Your Ground Laws
Some states (including the state of Maryland) require individuals to attempt to retreat from a dangerous situation before using force to defend themselves. (This is not applicable in most cases that involve the castle doctrine, however.) In these states, self defense can only be used to justify violent force used against another person that was posing a physical threat if the defendant did try to exit the situation in any way they could. If there was no way to retreat from the situation or if the threat continued after they retreated, then they are able to use self defense to justify the use of force. This is known as “duty to retreat.”
The states that don’t require defendants to attempt to exit a situation in which they are being threatened with physical violence are known as “stand your ground” states.
“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.
There are a few components of castle doctrine that determine whether it can be used as a valid defense in a self defense case. In order for the castle doctrine to apply, the person must be inside of their home; a yard does not count. Also, the victim of the force must have already committed or been in the process of attempting to commit an unlawful entry into a persons’ home, which must be proven with evidence. The use of force must be determined to be reasonable. Finally, in some states, the duty to retreat applies to the castle doctrine.
Defense of Others
Self defense means defending one’s self but using force to counter a threat of physical harm to protect someone else is often justified as well. For defense of others to be used to justify use of force, a few conditions must be met by the defendant. The defendant must have honestly been under the impression that the other person that was being defended was in imminent danger. Their actions must have been considered to be reasonable, and they must have used force that is proportional the risk that was posed to the other person.
Self defense is only a legitimate defense in a case in which force was used if the threat against the defendant was imminent. Anything that uses force to do harm is considered to be an imminent threat. Verbal threats can also be considered to be imminent harm, though language that is merely aggressive doesn’t count.
Maryland Self Defense Charge Attorney
Understanding the nuances in a self defense case can be challenging. The attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help you navigate the intricacies of your case so that you can build a strong self defense case for yourself. Connect with us soon. Call (410) 834-3678 or visit the Law Office of Randolph Rice’s website to learn more about how we can represent you or just to set up a free consultation.