Legal Self Defense in California
In California, you are allowed to use reasonable self defense in order to protect yourself or others from injury or death. So, what is “reasonable” in terms of self defense?
For self defense to be a valid legal defense to criminal charges in California, your act must meet the following three elements:
- You reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of suffering serious bodily injury, being killed or being unlawfully touched
- It was reasonable for you to believe that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that imminent danger; and
- You used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that imminent danger
If you are accused of a crime, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich may be able to argue self defense to defend you against the charges. Our criminal defense lawyers have been using this defense successfully for more than 40 years. Let’s examine all three of these elements to find out whether you may be able to argue self defense in your case.
You Were in Imminent Danger of Harm
In order for self-defense to be a valid legal defense to the charges against you, you must have had a reasonable belief that you were facing imminent danger. This means a reasonable person in your situation would believe that another person was currently in the process of unlawfully touching you, causing injury to you or killing you.
Self defense is not a valid legal defense if you believed you were facing the threat of future harm. For example, you cannot legally attempt to stab someone because he said he will kill you in two weeks. In order for this defense to apply in your case, you must have been facing an immediate threat.
You Believed Immediate Use of Force was Necessary to Defend Against Harm
Although using force to defend yourself against harm or death is legal in California, it is not always your only option. In order for self defense to be a valid legal defense, a reasonable person in your situation must believe that using force is necessary to defend against danger.
For instance, if someone pins you to the ground and starts to punch you repeatedly, a reasonable person would believe the only the way to protect yourself is to use force of some kind. However, if someone throws an object at you from a distance, it may not be viewed as reasonable toward them and use force.
You Only Used an Amount of Force Necessary to Defend Yourself
Let’s say you got into a minor car accident. When you and the driver of the other vehicle pull over to exchange information, you start to argue. The other driver shoves you, and then you pull out a gun and shoot him. In this instance, self defense will likely not be a valid legal defense because you used more force than was necessary to defend yourself.
You are legally allowed to use only the amount of force that is necessary to protect yourself or someone else from imminent danger. Now, say the other driver pulled out a gun and pointed it at you. In this case, shooting him with your own gun will likely be considered a valid legal defense because a reasonable person may find it necessary that you fire the weapon to protect yourself.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been accused of a crime involving the use of force, self defense may be a valid legal defense to the charges against you. You should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Wallin & Klarich immediately to find out which legal defenses may be available to you.
Our skilled criminal lawyers have been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for more than 40 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.