Free Consultation! Call: (609) 261-3400 | Email: | Emergencies: Click Here

New Jersey Self Defense Laws You Should Know

Self-defense is defined as the “defense of one’s person or interests, especially through the use of physical force, which is permitted in certain cases as an answer to a charge of violent crime.” Have you ever been attacked by someone? Was self-defense your only option?

The act of self-defense is a legitimate and acceptable behavior when a person defends themselves (or others) within the boundaries of the law. However, as with any legal matter, it can get complicated. In today’s blog, we’ll cover when self-defense is and is not justified according to New Jersey law, and what to do if you need to make a self defense claim with a New Jersey self defense attorney.

When Can I Use Self-Defense?

The defense of self-defense, or “self-protection”, is explained in Section 2C:3-4 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice:

“Subject to the provisions of this section and of section 2C:3-9, the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”

Just because another person started the fight doesn’t mean that you can do whatever it takes to finish it! In New Jersey, you have the duty to retreat before fighting back, if possible. If it’s not possible to retreat, you must reasonably believe the following:

  • The use of force is immediately necessary (you can’t get away)
  • The amount of force used is necessary
  • The force against him or her is unlawful

If the defendant’s belief about any of these three subjects is unreasonable, then the defense is not available. For example, if a man in a wheelchair hits you with his fist, and you respond by knocking him unconscious with a heavy object, your use of force would be considered unreasonable. Why? First, if you are an able-bodied person, you can easily escape a person in a wheelchair. Second, a heavy object can cause more damage than a person’s fist. Using a heavy object would be excessive compared to the initial aggressor’s use of force, which means both of you could be criminally charged.

When might you be justified to use a heavy object, or even deadly force, as self defense? If you fear for your life, or someone else’s life. Deadly force is justifiable when you reasonably believe it necessary to save yourself or somebody else from death or severe bodily injury.

No matter the nuances of your case, you will need a skilled New Jersey self defense attorney to help you create the best defensive strategy.

The Self Defense Attorney New Jersey Residents Rely On

If you’re looking to make a self defense claim, or you’ve been charged with a crime for using force against another, contact Mark Catanzaro immediately. This New Jersey self defense attorney has over 30 years of experience defending clients in a variety of criminal cases. He combines his knowledge, determination, and experience to come up with creative and compelling strategies for your case. Get in touch today!


Leave a Comment

Request Free Case Evaluation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Office Locations

Mount Holly:

21 Grant St.
Mt. Holly, New Jersey


143 White Horse Avenue
Trenton, New Jersey