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When can one act in self-defense?

Sometimes, when another person threatens your safety or causes you harm, you may have to act to defend yourself, even if this means hurting the aggressor. That being said, a person in Sacramento who does this may be charged with a violent crime, such as assault or battery. However, they may be able to have the charges against them dropped if it can be shown that they acted in self-defense.

Self-defense laws vary between states, so if a person wants to argue that he or she acted in self-defense, that person may want to consult with an attorney to better understand the laws of self-defense in their state. However, in general self-defense is legal if it is done to stop unlawful force or violence via a similar level of force or violence.

For the most part, a person can only use self-defense if he or she is facing an immediate threat. Verbal threats are sufficient if they cause an immediate apprehension that the person would be physically hurt. Sometimes, even if the aggressor doesn't intend to hurt a person, if a "reasonable person" in similar circumstances would have interpreted the aggressor's behavior as threatening, a person may use self-defense. In addition, the force used in self-defense cannot go above and beyond the force threatened or committed by the aggressor. However, once the threat of harm ceases, a person can no longer act in self-defense. If they try to, it would be deemed a retaliatory act, and may be against the law.

Laws also vary by state as to whether a person has to try to retreat before acting in self-defense. Moreover, state laws vary with regards to whether a person can use lethal force if someone is illegally breaking into their home. As this shows, since the laws surrounding self-defense vary between states, California residents who are facing criminal charges but believe they only acted in self-defense may want to discuss the matter with a criminal defense attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Self-Defense Overview," Accessed May 22, 2017

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