Self Defense Law

Self Defense Law is a vary subjective, volatile, and diverse topic. Why is this you ask? It is Simply because we live in a "civilized society". By realizing this we can better understand the basis from which defense laws are derived. 

A "civilized society" MUST have rules and codes for it's citizens to follow. If there are no boundaries to follow, or if the boundaries are unfairly tipped toward one group or another then chaos will reign. 

The problem is that we do not live a perfect society. It does have flaws and there are areas of society that are not in balance. 

So chaos is more prevalent, crime more noticeable, and life much harder. There are many moral, ethical, political and religious views of why this divide exist. But that is a subject in and of it's self. 

The fact still remains that when there is social unrest crime can and usually will arise. This coupled with the fact that some individuals will take advantage of others simply because they can serves the need and desire for laws that govern the people. 

How do these concepts of civilizations relate to
self defense law?

They create it! In order to have some semblance of justice, equality and fair treatment. Laws must be set in place to protect the people of a given society. 

No one should have the right to take what is yours, to harm you physically, mentally or emotionally. At the same time no one should be allowed to retaliate with anymore than reasonable force. 

This reasonable force is then defined by the law. Yet, understanding the law can become quite frustrating and time consuming. There is a book that I recently found that may help you in your quest to understanding self defense law. The Criminal Law Handbook: Know Your Rights, Survive the System.

Self defense law's vary from state to state, country to country and place to place, so Weather you are a Martial Artist, a Self Defense practitioner, a Warrior, a beginner, or an expert. 

You must check with your particular law enforcement, principality, or government for the specifics defense laws in your area. It is your responsibility to understand your legal rights concerning self defense law, and how to protect those rights. 

If you decide to defend your-self using physical force. You must be prepared, using judgment and knowledge, in preparing for the decision to defending self and/or family. 

Most self defense law dictates that you defend yourself only if no retreat is possible, and only with force equal to or less than that of the attacker's force, or intent of force 

  • The 1st Level of Force is Non Lethal with no permanent injury to the attacker. This area of non lethal self defense law is the least restrictive.
  • The 2nd is Semi-Lethal or less than lethal Force with possible permanent injury to the attacker. This is a very gray area in self defense law.
  • The 3rd Level of Force is Lethal, when your life is in danger and you must bring grave bodily harm or even death to the attacker. At this level self defense law usually becomes very clear in the fact that you reacted to a life and death situations.

Self defense and the defense of others is sometimes referred to as alter ego defense or defense of a third person, are a pair of legal theories under which otherwise illegal acts may be justified when committed for the purpose of protecting oneself, or for the purpose of protecting another person. This may include the use of violence or even deadly force.

Legal Status of Self Defense

The legal status of self defense varies between jurisdictions. It has been generally held by most courts, as well as prescribed by self defense law statute law, that the degree of violence used in self defense must be comparable to the threat faced, so that deadly force should only be used in situations of "extreme" danger. For instance, in most jurisdictions, it is illegal to deliberately kill a petty thief that does not appear to be a physical threat.

Many have ruled that self defense is only acceptable as a legal defense when the user doesn't have sufficient chance to flee. However, the castle exception (see:Edward Coke) argues that one cannot be expected to retreat from one's own home.

The concept of "preemptive" self defense is considered dubious due to common misconception of the act as murdering a person believed to someday attack with lethal force. Realistic "pre-emptive" self defense is simply the act of landing the first-blow in a situation that has reached a point of no hope for de-escalation or escape. Many self defense instructors and experts believe that if the situation is so clear-cut as to feel certain violence is unavoidable, the defender has a much better chance of surviving by landing the first blow and gaining the immediate upper hand to quickly stop the risk to their person.

Self Defense of other People

Defendants who use this defense are arguing that they should not be held liable for a crime, since the actions taken were intended to protect another individual from danger. This defense is treated in a manner similar to self defense, in that the use of violent force, used by the defendant, must be in some manner appropriate to the situation. 

Generally, the defendant must have a reasonable belief that the third party they are seeking to defend is in a position where that third party would have the right to defend themself. For example, a person who unknowingly chances upon two actors practicing a fight would be able to defend his restraint of the one that appeared to be the aggressor. 

Most courts have ruled that such a defense cannot be used to protect friends or family members who have engaged in an illegal fight. Likewise, one cannot use this to aid a criminal.

Here are a few other articles that may intrest you as well:

  • Pepper Spray Laws
  • Stun Gun Laws

  • Return to From Self Defense Law to Self Defense Training


    The article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License
    It uses some material from the Wikipedia article "law"


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