Everyday there are events where people defend themselves from what they perceive to be harm in private or public places, but the question that always arises is whether or not it was under appropriate circumstances.
As a result, a defendant may claim self-defense when they are accused with a violent crime. Self-defense is really more complicated than it appears to be at first, because several questions are always brought up: did you act within the appropriate means? What were the circumstances surrounding the situation? Was the fear of harm actually reasonable? How was the attacker acting? What do the other witnesses have to say? Countless questions will be brought up in the trial of a self-defense situation.
However, there are certain components that are brought up to define self-defense as a whole. Usually, it is only acceptable to defend yourself from a threat, if that threat is imminent, and even if the event has already occurred (ex. An aggressor has assaulted you and you fight him or her off), you cannot defend yourself, legally, once that threat has ended. That’s why it’s important to only fight back or defend yourself while the assailant is attacking you.
There are many different forms of self-defense. The first is if you defend yourself from a threat that is unreasonable, you have just committed an imperfect self-defense. Not all states recognize imperfect self-defense, however. If you have committed an imperfect self-defense, you can claim that you were provoked to defend yourself, such as the other person creating a conflict, even if they haven’t directly harmed or assaulted you yet, or even attempted to.
There are other laws that require you to first attempt to avoid defending yourself before you actually have to. This is called a duty to retreat. This means that you must make an attempt to get out of the situation without the use of violence before using lethal force against the attacker.
Castle doctrine laws do exist in states have a duty to retreat law, but they only apply for if they occur in your home. In castle doctrine laws, if someone unlawfully enters your home, then you can defend yourself with lethal force.
Finally, there is also stand your ground laws, which are legal in many states. Stand your ground laws are the exact opposite of duty to retreat laws, as they allow you to defend yourself without having to attempt to escape the situation first.