Schedule a Free Consultation

Self-Defense Laws in California

If you have been arrested for a violent crime against another individual, but you were only protecting yourself from danger, it is your right to use such force to defend yourself. Although the state doesn't have a “stand your ground” rule when a self-defense situation occurs outside your home, you have the right to defend yourself using deadly force if necessary.

To establish you acted in self-defense, you are required by California law to prove the following:

  • You reasonably believed you were in imminent danger of suffering death or great bodily harm
  • You reasonably believed that using such force was warranted to prevent imminent harm, and
  • The degree of force used was proportionate to the danger you encountered.

Imminent danger is considered a threat that is occurring right at the moment. When it comes to reasonable belief, a jury will consider what a reasonable individual would have done if they were involved in a similar situation as your own.

If the person claiming self-defense is the one who provokes the attack, he/she will be charged with a violent crime if the intent was to create an excuse to use force. However, a person who starts a fight has a right to self-defense if he/she attempted to stop the confrontation and gave the other party an opportunity to stop fighting.

Proportionate force is the amount of force that was required to stop a threat. For example, the use of deadly force to protect yourself from murder or rape would be justified. However, using deadly force to protect yourself from assault isn't considered proportionate force.

In regard to a self-defense situation in your home, also known as the “Castle Doctrine,” you are allowed to use deadly force within your home if there is a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. So if an intruder unlawfully forces his/her way into your home, you can use deadly force if you knew an intruder entered your home without permission, the intruder acted unlawfully, there was a reasonable fear of imminent death or injury to you or another member of the household, and you or another member of the household didn't provoke the intruder.

At Wilfert Law P.C., our Ventura criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case and determine whether or not the use of self-defense was justified. From there we can build an effective and personalized defense strategy to help you get your case dismissed altogether or your charges/penalties reduced.

If you have been accused of a violent crime in Ventura County, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.