Can You Claim Self-Defense as a Violent Crime Charges Defense?

Attorneys who represent clients charged with a violent crime may assert that the violence occurred as an act of self-defense. There is often misunderstanding about whether or not a claim of self-defense is appropriate in certain situations. There are certain concepts and common aspects of a self-defense strategy, and it is important to know what they are and to understand them.

What is Self-Defense?

Self-defense refers to the legal right of an individual to defend themselves from harm or death. For self-defense to apply, the individual must have reasonably believed that they were in danger of being harmed or killed when they committed a violent act.

The Elements Involved in Self-Defense

In order for an individual to successfully claim self-defense in a violent crime case, they must meet specific legal requirements. Self-defense is governed by state law, which means the law varies from state to state. However, here are some general principles that are common across all states:

  • The individual must have been threatened or attacked by the victim.
  • The force used must be proportional to the threat posed by the attacker. For example, if a person uses their open hand to slap someone with minor force, stabbing that individual repeatedly with a knife in return would not be considered proportional.
  • In most cases, the individual must not have been the initial aggressor in the altercation.
  • The individual must have immediately ceased defending themselves when it was no longer necessary to do so. If not, the victim’s continued use of force against the aggressor would be deemed retaliation rather than self-defense.

How a Self-Defense Claim Can Help Your Case

After meeting all of the required elements, an individual accused of a violent crime can use self-defense as a defense before the court. This defense can be used to reduce or eliminate violent crime charges and may also be used as mitigation during sentencing. It is imperative to seek professional legal counsel to use this defense to have the greatest chance at success.

Are There Other Violent Crimes Charges Defenses?

There are several other defenses a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney may employ in a violent crimes case. Some of the most common include:

  • Defense of others
  • Mistaken identity
  • Lack of intent
  • Insanity
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Alibi
  • Duress

Each of these has its own set of requirements and exemptions, so it’s necessary to consult with a lawyer for more information specific to your case regarding these options.

Contact a Qualified Defense Attorney Licensed in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey

At The Brookman Law Group, we understand the seriousness of a violent crime charge. We are also thoroughly familiar with the requirements of an argument of self-defense. We’re committed to gaining a comprehensive understanding of your case to offer the most effective defense possible. Contact us at (267) 566-5598 for a free consultation.

We target Philadelphia, PA; Camden, NJ; Gloucester City, NJ; Chester, PA; Darby, PA; and the other surrounding communities.