Decatur Criminal Law Lawyer

Causing another person physical harm by striking, shooting or otherwise injuring that person is considered a criminal act in most jurisdictions and the person who committed the violent act will probably face prosecution under criminal statues in the state in which they live.  However, some states have statues in place that allow for one person to injure or even kill another if they are acting in self-defense.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the defensive action had to be reasonable.  For example, if a small woman threatens to beat up a two-hundred-and fifty-pound muscular man and approaches him with her fists, it would not be reasonable for that man to take out a gun and shoot the woman in the head.  If the man tried to use self-defense to explain his actions, the court would not look favorably upon this and the man would probably lose his case. A Decatur criminal law lawyer will sometimes use the expression “you can’t bring a gun to a fist fight” to help clients understand this concept.  Another way to look at it is, while it may be reasonable to push or strike a person who is attacking you with their fists, it may not be reasonable to shoot that person dead.  However, if that same person has a gun and is shooting at you, you may be authorized by the law to shoot them in self-defense.

The ability to claim or demonstrate fear of imminent injury to one’s self or another is critical to a successful claim of self-defense It’s not just that the person claiming self-defense had a right to be really mad or felt really disrespected, they have to have been in fear of their life or afraid for the life of the person they were defending in order to have a valid claim of self-defense.  One exception to this general rule is people suffering from battered person syndrome who act in self-defense. It cases where a person has been abused over a long period of time, the court may be willing to take into consideration the mindset of a person having suffered years of abuse, even if they were not in danger of losing their life at the moment they lashed out.

It is more difficult to establish a defense of property defense, but some states do recognize that a homeowner has not duty to back down if someone is invading their home.  Again, the actions taken by the property owner must be reasonable. If someone is knocking on your door in broad daylight and you shoot them because you don’t want them on your property, this will generally not be considered legitimate defense of property.  However, if you are asleep in your bed at night and you hear a person breaking into your home, you may be justified in shooting that person.

One goal of claiming self-defense is to ensure that the accused person in not convicted of a crime.  However, some states take it one step further than that and offer immunity from even being prosecuted to people who can show they were acting in self-defense.  Speak to your lawyer at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. about whether your jurisdiction offers the option to have an immunity motion prior to trial. In an immunity motion, the judge listens to evidence of what happened during the incident and makes a ruling of whether the accused person is immune from prosecution because they were acting in self-defense.  If the judge rules that the violent act was an act of self-defense then the prosecution will be barred from pursuing the charges any further.