Mark M. Cheser 35 Years of Criminal Defense Experience
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Self-defense can help you defend against violent criminal charges

Facing criminal charges related to a violent crime in New Jersey is a nerve-wracking experience. After all, the potential consequences are serious. It's also important to realize that there is more social stigma attached to violent crimes than to many other kinds of offenses. In addition to criminal penalties, a criminal conviction could make it much harder to secure a good job or obtain rental housing in the future.

Anyone facing criminal charges related to an act of violence needs to carefully consider how to build a legal defense. One of the more common approaches to violent crime charges is to develop a claim of self-defense. For those who were in fear of imminent danger to themselves or someone else, self-defense claims can help in court.

You have the right to protect yourself from violence

Every state has its own rules in place regarding self-defense or self protection. New Jersey has relatively liberal laws that allow you to use force toward another person. Those laws protect you if you believe that the other person presented an imminent risk of unlawful force.

It is important to understand that the amount of forced used should be reasonable given the circumstances. For example, the use of deadly force if someone is simply trying to take a purse from a stranger is not likely justified. However, using physical force to stop someone armed with a weapon from entering your home against your wishes likely is acceptable.

In order to build a criminal defense strategy around claims of self-defense, you will need to prove that you had a reasonable belief that the force was necessary to protect yourself from death or serious bodily harm. Evidence to support this claim could include the possession of a weapon by the other party or a verbal threat.

Reviewing the details of your case can help you determine if a self-defense claim could work

Many different factors can influence the outcome of a self defense strategy in court. For example, if there are witnesses who will testify that you intentionally provoked the other party to violence, claims of self-defense likely won't work. This could apply in cases of road rage, even if all you did was become verbally aggressive.

Similarly, if you initiate physical contact with the other party, you will have a harder time proving that your self-defense was necessary and that you are not responsible for the violence you used toward the other party. Many different forms of evidence, from security camera footage to witness testimony, can influence how the courts perceive yourself defense claim.

Understanding the nuances of state law and the details of your case can help you decide if developing a self-defense strategy is the best response to your pending violent crime charges.

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