New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

Arguing Self-Defense for Violent Crime Charges – Some Useful Facts


Violent crime is defined as the act of inflicting or threatening to inflict serious bodily harm. If the injury has been committed intentionally, possibly to achieve a criminal purpose, such as theft or rape, the perpetrator is charged with a violent crime. When threatened with harm and believing that they can be hurt, the law recognizes that any person  may retaliate in self-defense. As your Daytona Beach criminal lawyer will explain, you have the right to protect yourself or a loved one from harm by using some counteracting force for protection.

The Law Accepts that You Have the Right to Self-Defense

The rules and prosecution procedures for violent crime charges can vary by jurisdiction. Both, state and federal laws accept that the threat of violence can be verbal or physical. However, several factors are considered when evaluating the facts of the case and right to self-defense. Here are some of the questions scrutinized when determining fault.

  • How serious was the threat of violence that the defendant acted to protect themself?
  • What is the adequate force or violence the defendant used for self-protection?
  • Did the potential victim provoke the attack?
  • Did the potential victim believe that they were in real danger even if they weren’t?
  • Could you have averted the attack by getting away from the perpetrator instead of acting?
  • Was the threat of aggression an honest mistake that any reasonable person could have made?

Not All Self-Defense Claims Can Get Violent Crime Charges Dismissed

When arguing your case in court, the Maryland murder lawyer will likely present evidence that you were sure the attacker intended to hurt you immediately, and not at some time in the future. In other words, you reacted to a clear and imminent threat. If the threat was only perceived, that could be defined as an ‘imperfect threat.” The law also determines whether you used an adequate response to the level of the threat. Self-defense is only accepted if you only used force to remove the threat and safeguard yourself.

Duty to Retreat vs. Stand Your Ground

Some states have the “Duty to Retreat” law where any person when facing the threat of a violent crime should attempt to escape and avoid the conflict before using any kind of force to defend themself. On the other hand, the state where you live may have the “Stand Your Ground” law where you can use the claim of self-defense even if you did nothing to avert the attack by escaping the situation. The critical factor under scrutiny is the fact that “non-lethal” force was used to threaten you. The lawyer representing you will work out the intricacies of the rule to build a robust defense for you.

Defending Your Home and Property

The law recognizes your right to defend your home and property against attacks from an intruder. This law is called the “Castle Doctrine,” and accordingly, you have the right to use lethal force against any person entering your home unlawfully without permission. Even so, the actual facts of the case can dictate whether or not the court will accept the self-defense claim. Your lawyer can provide in-depth information on how to build the case and argue the facts in court.

Violent crimes can be of different kinds, such as assault and battery, aggravated assault and battery, kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, gang violence, manslaughter, and murder. Each crime and incident is unique, and if you have acted out of self-defense, it is advisable to rely on the expertise of an attorney to go over the facts and build a robust case for you.

Share this Article

About the Author

Talented, motivated, and service-oriented expert John Menzel J.D. provides strong representation for DUI cases.