The Right to Defend Others
Self-defense can be used as a valid legal defense to many violent crimes, such as assault or battery. We all have a right to self-defense when we need to protect ourselves. We also have the right to defend others from harm. In fact, under California law you can use the self-defense defense to a criminal charge if you were defending someone else. A few specific parameters must be met for this defense to be valid. To use the defense of others defense to a criminal charge, you must:
- Had reasonably believed the person you protected was in imminent danger of being harmed
- Reasonably believed force was necessary to protect this person from harm, and
- You used no more force than was reasonable and necessary given the circumstances
These parameters can occur in many different scenarios. For example: a husband comes home to his wife using excessive force against their child because the child misbehaved. The husband then physically forces the wife away from the child. In this situation, the husband has a right to use force again the wife if the above three parameters are met; the husband reasonably believed the child was in imminent danger, the husband also reasonably believed force was necessary to protect the child, and he used no more force than reasonable and necessary given the circumstances.
This may seem like a simple defense and one that can easily be used in court. But this isn't necessarily the case. Using self-defense as a defense to a criminal charge can require skillful argument. While you may have believed you needed to use force to protect someone from harm, law enforcement may not agree with you. If the alleged victim had a right to self-defense but could not exercise it, your claim may be a strong one. If the alleged victim had initiated the conflict or could have easily avoided the harm, your actions may not be justified in a court of law.
Similarly, the amount and nature of the force you used will be considered. Did you hold someone back from harming someone else, or was the amount of force you used enough harm the perpetrator? The key to claiming self-defense is that proving you used no more force than was necessary. If all you needed to do was hold someone back and instead you knocked him or her out, you may not be able to claim self-defense.
Defending others and ourselves against harm is a basic right. You are allowed to defend yourself against others without criminal liability. You can defend your property from being harmed by someone, too. You are even allowed the right to protect others from harm if they need protection and it is reasonable to do so. You are not required to stand back if you can intervene in a conflict to protect someone from harm. Unfortunately, doing so can still appear as assault to a police officer or a concerned citizen. This can lead to a wrongful assault conviction.
Speak with an attorney in your area if you are facing criminal charges for an act of self-defense. It is important for you to make all the right moves in your case from the beginning. A criminal defense attorney should evaluate your case before you decide on a defense strategy. A knowledgeable California criminal defense attorney can give you an idea of whether claiming self-defense will be effective in your specific case. In the end, no matter what the circumstances were behind your actions, you must prove the above three elements to avoid a conviction. An attorney can help you do this.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about claiming self-defense in your case, call experienced domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you face your charges with confidence. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.