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It’s not self-defense when the threat is over

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2022 | Criminal Law

You know that you’re allowed to use force to protect yourself. This is known as self-defense and a valid reason to use force – even deadly force, in some cases – against another individual. Moreover, you can also use self-defense to protect your family or another person. You don’t necessarily have to be under threat yourself.

However, once the threat is removed, it’s very important to know that self-defense stops being a reason for the use of force.

What does this mean?

This line can be a bit difficult to find, but it’s important for those defending themselves to make sure they still face a valid threat while doing so.

For example, say that you’re walking along the sidewalk when someone who has been drinking begins to accost you. Things escalate, they strike you, and you punch them in return. This is not assault but self-defense.

When you do it, that person begins to walk away. If you follow them at this point and assault them again, it is no longer self-defense. You may claim that they started the encounter, which may be true. But the threat ended after you defended yourself and the person began to retreat. If you then became the aggressor and attacked them, you could be charged with assault even though you didn’t go looking for a fight to begin with.

What defense options do you have?

If you find yourself in this position, especially if you think there’s been a misunderstanding and you didn’t do anything wrong, it’s very important to understand all the criminal defense options you have at your disposal.

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