Self Defense and the Law
It is natural to defend loved ones, our selves, and property from any harm. However, self defense laws are more complex than a simple “I was defending myself.” This paper will explore self defense as it pertains to the law.
According to US law the right of self-defense is defined as the “right for civilians acting on their own behalf to engage in violence for the sake of defending one’s own life or the lives of others.” (Wikipedia-Right of Self-Defense) It seems fairly straightforward. However, there are circumstances deemed by the justice system where self-defense is not a viable enough reason for using violence against another person.
One such instance has to do with what the risk is that the assailant is producing. Self defense used to kill the assailant if they are not making a threat is considered illegal. By law the defending party has to act according to the threat level of the assailant. If the assailant is posing a significant risk and you try to incapacitate them and then the assailant’s rate of risk drops (the defender takes the weapon from the assailant) and you continue to try and incapacitate them, instead of just restraining them, then the defending person is in the wrong in the light of the law. (Wikipedia-Right of Self Defense)
Written into these laws is the duty to retreat. In places where the defendant has to prove that he was in the right with his actions, duty to retreat comes into play, as the defendant must prove that he was acting in a reasonable capacity. The defense must prove that the defendant took all necessary steps to avoid a confrontation in the first place (Wikipedia-Duty to Retreat).
A part of criminal law that is pertinent to self-defense is the Castle Doctrine. The Castle Doctrine “designates one’s place of residence as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack.” The doctrine continues to give the legal right to a person to use deadly force to protect...