If you’re facing domestic violence charges in California, you likely understand that a conviction can carry severe penalties — it could mean hefty fines and long-term imprisonment. Therefore, it is crucial to defend yourself by all available means. A domestic violence lawyer in Oakland, CA knows that, under the right circumstances, claiming self-defense or defense of others may provide a complete defense of your criminal case.
However, asserting such a defense is challenging and may be risky from a legal perspective. Consequently, if you believe that you may have grounds to claim self-defense or defense of others, you should discuss your circumstances with an Oakland, CA domestic violence lawyer before saying anything to the police or prosecutors or making any significant decisions.
Is Self-Defense and Defense of Others Provide “Justification” for Assault or Homicide?
Self-defense and defense of others are s “justification” defenses. This means that by using one of these defenses, you are making the argument that you do not deserve punishment even though you committed the assault. Essentially, you are claiming that you were left with no other choice but to take violent action to protect yourself or someone else from inescapable bodily harm.
Indeed, the use of force is justifiable in specific circumstances when the individual believes that such force is immediately necessary to protect him or herself against the use of unlawful force by another individual. However, there are situations when under which the use of force is not legally justified. These can include (but are not limited to):
- Using deadly force when non-lethal force would do
- Using deadly force after provoking the other individual’s use of force
- Using deadly force when you can retreat safely (unless “stand your ground” laws apply).
- Resisting arrest (including unlawful arrest)
To make a successful self-defense argument, it is necessary for your domestic violence lawyer in Oakland, CA to establish each requirement of the state’s established laws. If any element of the defense is not met, then the prosecutor may be able to convict even though you honestly believed you were acting in self-defense. These requirements include:
► Belief: This is the first element of self-defense. To claim self-defense, an individual must have believed that he or she was under an imminent threat of danger at the time they used force.
► Immediate necessity: An individual must not only believe that using force is necessary, but he or she must also believe that it is an “immediately necessary.” If there is any way to retreat, or if only a threat of future harm exists, then self-defense may not apply.
► Unlawful force: Self-defense only applies in circumstances where an individual is confronted with the use of unlawful force. Use of force can be lawful in some specific instances, such as in connection with an arrest.
► Present occasion: There must also be a fear of harm at the time when a person uses force in self-defense. You can’t launch an unprovoked attack and then claim self-defense if you were subject to a prior attack or are concerned that an individual may attack you in the future.
What does all this mean? Well, if you think that you acted in self-defense or in defense of someone else and are now facing domestic violence charges, you are well-advised to schedule a confidential consultation to speak with a domestic violence lawyer Oakland, CA clients trust from Hallinan Law Firm about your situation. Call our office today.