What You Should Know About Self-Defense Rules in California
It’s never OK to physically assault somebody – unless you’re defending yourself. This is called self-defense, and it’s perfectly legal in California and throughout the nation. You could be facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit, but you believe you were only defending yourself from an attack. Before talking to the police or paying a settlement, you should find out what you should know about self-defense rules in California and hire the right representation.
The Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates provide vigorous representation to clients and are a goal-oriented and values-driven firm. We develop creative strategies to win every case, every time and are confident we can help you with your self-defense case. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.
What Is Self-Defense?
When you’ve been accused of a violent crime, you have the right to claim that you were acting out of self-defense. Self-defense is your right to prevent force or violence by counteracting with force or violence.
In the state of California, the law specifically says that you can use self-defense if you believe you are in imminent danger of suffering great bodily injury, or being killed, and force was required to defend yourself against the imminent danger. Additionally, the amount of force you used was necessary to protect yourself from that danger. Self-defense could protect you even if you killed another person. It all depends on the circumstances of your case.
If you use too much force or it wasn’t warranted in the first place, you could face criminal charges. You could also be sued for causing an injury to an individual in a civil court of law and have to pay them damages.
What Is the Stand Your Ground Law?
In California, there is a Stand Your Ground law that could apply in your case. You can defend yourself, as well as other people around you, without retreating. This could be relevant if you’re inside or outside of your home and you’re facing a deadly threat. You can even pursue an assailant until the threat is under control. For instance, this could be applicable if someone comes onto your property and threatens to shoot you. You don’t have to run away; you could meet force with force to protect yourself.
Examples of Self-Defense
If you’re going to use self-defense to protect yourself, you have to make sure that your actions are reasonable. Here’s an example.
Let’s say you’re at a bar, and you accidentally bump into someone. They punch you in face and are attempting to kick you as well. You punch them in the face to subdue them and get them off of you. This could possibly be a legitimate use of self-defense.
However, in another scenario, let’s say you were at a bar and someone called you a name. They threatened to slap you in the face. If you then take out a knife and threaten to stab them, this would likely not be seen as reasonable, and you would potentially get hit with criminal charges.
You could also use self-defense when protecting others. For example, if you see a man running towards your child and he’s threatening to hurt them, you can take reasonable action to protect your child, as well as yourself.
What to Do If You Get Arrested for a Violent Crime
If you get arrested for a violent crime, the first thing you should keep in mind is that you have the right to remain silent, even if the police forget to tell you this. Don’t tell them anything, or else you could end up hurting your case. Instead, call a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can to discuss what to do.
Also, as soon as possible, write down all the details leading up to your arrest. Note whether or not the police read you your Miranda rights (your right to remain silent). Write down the names of anyone who may have witnessed what happened and could come to your defense as well.
When you meet with your lawyer, you’ll show them evidence you have to prove your innocence. You will also determine how you’re going to show that you were acting out of self-defense. If you’re involved in a civil case, this proof could be helpful to show how you were not responsible for someone else’s injuries.
While you have the right to use the court-appointed public defender, this is not ideal. They may be competent, but they are often overwhelmed with many cases, and won’t be able to give yours the attention it deserves.
You could be facing years behind bars as well as thousands of dollars in fines, so it isn’t worth it to risk it all. By finding an experienced criminal defense lawyer with the case results to back it up, you could have a much better chance of having your charges reduced or dropped.
What Happens in a Criminal Case?
The prosecutor is going to need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re guilty of committing a violent crime and you were not acting out of self-defense. They will need to use evidence to show this. If they cannot, they’re going to have a difficult time convincing a jury that you are guilty.
If you have evidence to prove your innocence, then it’s going to blow the prosecutor’s case out of the water. If you don’t have evidence, your criminal defense attorney could work with you on gathering some.
You could also end up entering into a plea deal, which may be necessary if the details of the violent crime are murky and it wasn’t clear that it was self-defense. When it comes to a plea deal, you will plead guilty or no contest to some or all of the charges in exchange for a reduced sentence. This could be the best-case scenario depending on what happened.
You and your criminal defense attorney will work together to decide what to do. And if you’re also dealing with civil charges, you can reach out to a lawyer for help. Some lawyers may be able to represent you for both.
Contact Robin D. Perry & Associates
If you need help with a criminal or civil self-defense case, then it’s time to get in touch with the Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates today. No matter what, we will fight on your behalf during your time of need. Call us at 562-216-2944 or contact us on our website for a free consultation.