Self Defense

Practice Areas

Criminal Attorney in Los Angeles – Self Defense in Violent Crime Cases

Self-defense is most commonly asserted by criminal lawyers in Los Angeles, CA on behalf of their clients who have been accused of violent crimes such as assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, or homicide. If you got involved in a physical altercation with someone and that person was about to gravely hurt or injure you and to prevent that from happening, you used force to hurt that person, you may be able to allege self-defense. That is only if you had an honest and credible belief that your life was in imminent danger and death or serious injury to you would have resulted if you did not act to defend yourself.

Elements of Self-Defense

It takes professional skill by your lawyer to prove Self-defense. First, you cannot have been the initial aggressor or the one who initiated the altercation. Secondly, you should know that even if you are in danger, you should not use excessive force. You may only use force that is reasonably necessary under the circumstances. For instance, if someone slaps you, you can’t take out a knife and slash their face. The use of force must also be reasonable and proportionate to the type of attack or assault. If someone makes you mad by swearing and name calling, you can’t punch them in the face and you can’t throw a bottle at their car. Your conduct may result in assault or vandalism charges to be filed against you.

If the alleged attacker who initiated the assault did not make an imminent threat to you, you could not reasonably claim that you were in danger. You must show that at that exact moment you had no other choice and if you just stood there, you would have been hurt. If you thought you were in danger but in fact you weren’t, then the jury must decide whether your subjective belief was reasonable.

The Battered Woman’s Syndrome

If a woman has been subjected to repeated physical abuse or threats of death by her spouse or partner, she may be able to assert self-defense if she killed her spouse or partner. The court will look at the totality of the circumstances to determine if she had a reasonable belief that she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury. The defendant must show that the abuse and fear of death was ongoing until moments before she delivered the fatal blow. If the trier of fact determines that the defendant’s belief of being in grave danger was not reasonable but it was honest, there is no perfect defense. That means the charges will not be dropped. However, the woman’s honest belief of being in danger may be grounds for imperfect self-defense. This may result in the reduction of a murder charge to manslaughter.

Use of Deadly Force

Self-defense is considered a type of “justification defense”. It is most common in assault, battery and murder charges. If you can prove that your life was in danger and you only used reasonable amount of force under the circumstances, your conduct may be “justified”.

If the threat by the attacker was conditional, you can’t use self-defense. For instance, if someone says “If you ever come knock on my door, I’ll kill you”. You can’t go buy a gun and shoot that person and allege self-defense. That’s because you were not in “imminent danger”. The threat was conditional and not unequivocal.

The use of deadly force is applicable only if it was absolutely necessary to defend against an immediate and present danger. That means the defendant had no other option but to instantly deal with the situation. If a gun is pointed at you and in a fraction of a second, you could be killed, use of deadly force may be justified. You don’t have to run away. You may use deadly force. But if your alleged attacker says “I am going to my office to get a gun and one of these days I will kill you”, then you don’t have an imminent danger. Therefore, you can’t attack that person with a knife at that moment or the next day. That’s because the imminent danger has not occurred yet. You still have other options such as reporting the matter to the police or temporarily staying at a different location until investigations are done. If you jump the gun and use deadly force under these circumstances, you could be charged with murder.< p>

The Castle Doctrine in California

Some states in the United States follow the Stand your Ground principle, meaning that a person may use deadly force when in imminent danger. In those states, there is no obligation to retreat. California, however, says that a man’s home is his castle, allowing people to use force against an intruder into their homes. To be able to use deadly force, the homeowner or resident must show that he knew that there was an illegal entry into his home, or someone was attempting to enter his home. Defendant must also show reasonable fear that he or others in his household were in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury.

The Castle Doctrine does not apply to vehicles and places of business.

If you believe you have a self-defense case and need professional legal representation to prove it, we are here to help. We will look into every detail of your case to fight for you and prove your innocence. Don’t lose hope. We can help.

Skip to content