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Know the elements of self-defense claims in criminal cases

When you are charged with a violent crime, you might end up considering self-defense as a defense strategy. Understanding the points that are specific to this defense is imperative before you opt to use this option.

One of the most important things to remember about a self-defense claim is that the harm had to be imminent. This means that if you were in danger or someone else was in danger, the force you used might be justifiable. But, this is only the case right then and there. You can't leave the scene, go get a weapon, some back and then use force. That situation wouldn't be considered self-defense.

Another important factor is that your fear has to be reasonable. This means that you can't think someone who has a spoon is going to kill you with the spoon. If the person has a knife or a gun, you might have a reasonable fear at that point.

In the case of whether the fear was reasonable or not, you have to think about what a reasonable person would think should cause fear. If the situation wouldn't cause a reasonable person fear, you might not have a suitable self-defense claim.

When you are considering a self-defense claim, it is imperative that you consider the case against you. The self-defense claim should explain your actions during the incident in question. You can't deny that you did what you are being accused of if you are claiming self-defense. Essentially, this defense option means that you acknowledge that you acted illegally but that the extraordinary circumstances forced you to do so.

Source: FindLaw, "Self-Defense Overview," accessed Feb. 17, 2017

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