Can You Use Self-Defense in a Murder Case?

Bullets and Gun – Waukegan, IL – Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLCMany people learn self-defense for protection. However, when it comes time to finally use that knowledge, you may be worried you’ll get in trouble for causing bodily harm. Luckily, self-defense is commonly allowed when you need to protect yourself or others. If you would like to learn more, keep reading.

When Can You Self-Defense?

If you feel threatened, you may be wondering if you can use self-defense to protect yourself. Luckily, in Illinois, there are many instances when you can use force to protect yourself against danger or a potential threat. First, the threat must be imminent and targeted at you, someone else or your property. Second, you must have reasonable belief that you are in danger.

You can only use an amount of force equal to the threat, and if the attack is not illegal, you cannot fight back. For example, if an officer tackles you for a suspected crime, you can’t legally fight back with self-defense.

What Is Regular Force?

Ideally, you will only need to use regular force to stop someone who may be attacking you or trying to break into your home. Regular force simply means the amount of effort it takes to stop the person without causing too much harm. If someone tries to break into your house, and you threaten them with a gun, which causes them to flee, you successfully used regular force to eliminate the threat.

On the other hand, if you threatened the intruder with the gun, they ran, and then you shot them in the leg, you may face charges because you went above and beyond the regular force needed to stop the potential crime.

Can You Use Deadly Force?

Of course, when guns are involved, deadly force may become an issue. Deadly force is used as a means to purposely cause major bodily harm or death to someone posing a threat. When it comes to protecting human life, you can use deadly force if you believe that is the only way to stop the imminent death or bodily harm.

If you are protecting property, however, the rules are a little different. The attacker must suddenly, violently and forcibly enter the property or home for you to justifiably use deadly force. Therefore, if someone burst open your front door and stormed in with a gun, you can likely use deadly force because their actions indicate they are a big threat. If someone sneaks into an open window while they think you are gone, however, deadly force may not be allowed.

What If You Were Committing a Crime at the Time?

If you are committing a crime at the time, you may not be allowed to use self-defense as a defense. This is largely due to the fact that if you weren’t committing the crime, you probably wouldn’t have gotten attacked. For example, if you were trespassing through someone’s property as a short cut, and they started yelling at you to leave, you can’t use self-defense to protect yourself; you just need to leave.

In the above example, however, if the property owner suddenly pulled a gun on you and started shooting, or they tried to use deadly force on you, you usually have the right to defend yourself because property owners can’t purposely try to harm someone who is trespassing unless they are an imminent threat.

While you can’t always use deadly force to protect yourself, in most cases, you can use enough force required to stop the threat. The rules vary if you are protecting human life vs. property, making it important for everyone to fully understand their rights. If you would like to know more, contact us at Daniels, Long and Pinsel today.

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