XI. Self Defense

In California, you are allowed to use force against another person if the you reasonably believe that you must use force to defend yourself against the threat of immediate harm. In other words, if you are threatened with an attack, you have the right to defend yourself, and fight back.

The amount of force you can use to defend must be reasonable in relation to the threatened harm. For example, if a person bumps into you or pushes you, you cannot go into your home and get a chainsaw to cut the other person to pieces. If someone strikes you with their hand, reasonable responses would dictated you would be able to defend yourself by also using your hands to strike back.

Also, you must reasonably believe that you are immediately about to be harmed. The immediacy aspect of this requires a reaction in the moment. It isn’t enough to say that a person was intending to attack you the following day, to justify you attacking that person today. You cannot self-defend against future, promised harm.

You are also not privileged to use deadly force unless you are confronted with deadly force. This is similar to the above, where deadly force can only be used if the threat against you is deadly force. If a person has a gun and is shooting at you, you are then privilege to use your gun to shoot back at them

Also, if you were the initial aggressor you cannot later use self defense unless your victim escalated the situation with excessive force, or if you withdrew from the fight using your words of definitive actions, and then the victim became the aggressor by continuing the altercation. This can be done by simply stating that you no longer are wanting to engage in the fight. In other words, even if you start a fight, you may be privileged to use self defense. Another defense under this section is Defense of a Third party. This is similar to self-defense, except you are “standing in the shoes” of another person, who would have a right to defend themselves. The only difference, is you are standing in the way to defend that third party under the same criteria listed above.

For more information on the defense of self defense, call Ontario Criminal Defense attorney Adam Jackson today for a free consultation and free case evaluation. Call today at 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario, CA.