Under California Criminal Law 3470, you have a Right to self-defense or defense of another. This means that you as the defendant are not guilty of a specific crime that you were charged for if you used force against the person in a lawful way. In some situations, you may have to defend yourself if you reasonably believed that you or another person would be harmed by their actions.

Castle Doctrine

California Penal Code Section 198.5 covers something known as the “castle doctrine,” which grants a justification for deadly force inside a person’s residence. Many of these cases appear each year on the news and gain traction in the news industry because one may ask, “When am I permitted to use deadly force and when is it illegal?” Because California’s constitution and statutes do not contain stand-your-ground laws, it is important for the Castle Doctrine to exist. If you have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury” when somebody forces their way into your home, then you are justified by using deadly force. Here are some more facts that you should understand regarding the Castle Doctrine:

  • The California Criminal Jury Instructions allow a jury to acquit someone based on stand-your-ground defense, even though this is not provided in the law. This means that you could choose to stay and fight in self-defense or chase your attacker if you feel your life is threatened.
  • There are some conditions to stand-your-ground defense. For one, you must be defending and not striking first for it to apply. You must also believe that the threat is imminent rather than in the future.
  • In California, a judge is responsible for giving the jury its instructions if the facts of the case warrant it.

Using Self-Defense

Self-defense is only viable when a victim is preventing force or violence through counteracting force or violence. The questions you must ask yourself are this: What is the sufficient level of force permitted in self-defense? What if the victim actually provoked the act? Must you first attempt to retreat from the violence if given the chance? This makes self-defense cases much more complicated than they seem on the surface. Here are two of the best ways to determine what is right and wrong in a case:

Imminent Threat: If a life was threatened, physically or verbally, then it is reasonable to back this up with self-defense. However, it is important to remember that the use of self-defense loses its justification the moment the threat ends. Let’s say that the aggressor runs off after they have made the threat or punched the victim – in this case, the threat has ended and the victim should always call the police. 

Reasonable Fear of Harm: What a reasonable person should do in a situation is what you must do as well. If there was an immediate threat of harm, then typically the case will do well in court when dealing with self-defense.

It is not easy to be in the middle of a case involving self-defense when you know you were using defense reasonably. Perhaps you ended up being charged for an assault-type crime even after you have tried to prove your innocence. This is where we come in to help you with your case. Call today.