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California Self-Defense Laws

If you are accused of assault, murder, or another violent crime while protecting yourself from imminent danger, your criminal defense attorney can claim you acted in self-defense to get your entire case dismissed.

Self-defense is defined as using force against another individual to protect yourself or someone else from danger or injury. Although you admit to committing an unlawful act, you did so because of protection purposes.

A defendant can successfully argue self-defense if all the following circumstances can be proven:

  • The defendant has reason to believe they or another person was in imminent danger of suffering injury or death. The jury will decide if a reasonable person would act in the same manner in a similar situation.
  • The defendant has reason to believe the imminent use of force was required to protect themselves.
  • The force used was necessary to stop the perceived harm or threat. In other words, if a person threatens to hit you, killing them surpasses the level of force required to stop the attack.

Additionally, individuals have a right to stand their ground and protect themselves without needing to initially retreat. In regard to the state’s “castle doctrine,” they also have the right to use deadly force inside their own home when someone breaks in.

But what if you were the initial aggressor? Could you still argue self-defense?

The answer is yes—in certain circumstances. For example, if you started a fight and then requested to stop fighting and attempted to do so in good faith. Furthermore, if you started a fight with non-deadly force, but the other party involved responded with deadly force, you can protect yourself from serious bodily injury and/or death by using deadly force as well.

For more information about violent crimes in Santa Rosa, contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig todayat (707) 418-5352.