What is Self Defense in Los Angeles?

Self Defense is a defense that may be applicable in certain Los Angeles criminal cases. If a successful self defense assertion can be made, then it provides a complete defense and the case may be dismissed.

In order for self defense to be an appropriate defense, several elements must be met. First and foremost, you must believe that you are in imminent danger. The standard that is used, is that of the reasonable person. The Court will look to determine if a reasonable person in your situation would feel that they were in imminent danger.
For example, let’s say that Dan sends Victor an email saying ” I hate you, I am going to kill you”. Victor then takes his gun, goes over to Dan and shoots him. Victor does not have a self defense argument. When Dan sent the email, he was not in the same room as Victor, and Victor had no reason to believe that his life was in imminent danger. The reasonable person in Victor’s situation would not have believe there was any immediate harm to his well being and therefore, the first element of self defense would not be met.
The second element of self defense is that you believe imminent force is necessary to prevent the danger. Meaning, you have to act right away otherwise you will suffer harm.

Lets say that Dan and Victor are in a bar. Dan says that he is going to go down the street to buy some cigarettes, then when he comes back he is going to kill you. You wait until Dan returns, and then you hit him with a beer bottle. In this situation, force was not the only way you could have prevented the harm. You could have left the bar while Dan was gone. Let’s say Dan swings at Victor with no warning and Victor reacts by swinging back. In this second example, force is necessary to prevent the harm, because Victor did not have any time to react. The second element of self defense would be met.

The final element of self defense requires that you defend yourself with a reasonable amount of force. This means that you must take into consideration how you are being attacked, and how you respond. If it is unreasonable, then you may not have a valid self defense argument. For example, Dan attacks Victor by socking him. Victor takes out his gun and shoots him. This is unreasonable force and Victor will likely be charged with murder. If Victor had hit back, he would have had a reasonable defense given that the other elements were met.

When you are involved in a Los Angeles assault case, or something similar, be sure to know your options as far as defenses. If an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can assert a valid self defense on your behalf, your case may be dismissed.