A crime of violence, especially where death is involved, is extremely serious in the eyes of the law, and carries with it the heaviest sentencing potential. But not all instances where a defendant used force on another should result in a criminal conviction. The act of self-defense is a legitimate and lawful behavior – in certain circumstances. New Jersey self defense attorney Mark Catanzaro explains how this affirmative defense can help you in court.
When Can You Use This Defense?
Self Defense is a term that can sometimes be used loosely. Just because another person “started it,” doesn’t mean that you can do whatever it takes to finish it. In New Jersey, a person has the duty to retreat before fighting back, if possible. If it is not possible to get away, he or she must reasonably believe the following:
- The use of force is immediately necessary (cannot retreat)
- The amount of force used is necessary
- The force against him or her is unlawful
A self-defense argument would not hold up in court if, for example, a man on crutches came up to you and hit you with his fists, and you then used a large object to knock him unconscious. First, the use of force was not immediately necessary, because you had the ability to retreat safely. It would not be reasonable to believe that you could not escape the fists of a person using crutches. Second, the responding force cannot be justified. A person’s fists (especially when that person doesn’t have full balance) cannot cause near the amount of damage that a blow to the head with a large object could. Using such an object would be excessive compared to the initial aggressor’s use of force, and both of you could be criminally charged.
On the other hand, if you are in fear for your life because someone has you at knife point, you may be justified in using the large object from the prior example (or other methods) in order to protect yourself. Deadly force is justifiable when you reasonably believe it necessary to save yourself from death or serious bodily injury.
This law also extends to the protection of third parties. If you have a reasonable belief that another person is in imminent danger of being attacked, you may use force to defend the person.
In all such cases, an experienced New Jersey self defense attorney is necessary in order to formulate the best defensive strategy.
Call the Self Defense Attorney New Jersey Residents Trust!
If you have been charged with a crime for using force against another, contact Mark Catanzaro immediately. This self defense attorney in New Jersey has nearly 30 years of experience in defending clients in a variety of criminal cases. The sooner you call, the sooner he can begin preparing a compelling defense.