Drug and Criminal Defense in San Diego
Free Case Evaluations and 24/7 Availability - Call Today! 619.202.5583

Self Defense in California

Self-defense is a complete defense in California, which means no crime has occurred. The person who claims self-defense is, therefore, not guilty of committing a crime. Most people are aware of the term self-defense, but the law requires specific elements to be met before someone can assert the defense. To establish self-defense, the following elements must be satisfied:

  1. When you were accused of committing your crime, you reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of being killed, seriously injured, or unlawfully touched; and
  1. You reasonably believed that immediate force was necessary to prevent that danger; and
  1. You used no more force than was necessary to defend against that danger.

The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defense.

Imminent Danger

For self-defense to apply, the person must demonstrate that someone else was about to injure, kill, rape or unlawfully touch them imminently.

Reasonable Belief in Threat

It is important to remember when one asserts self-defense that the belief of imminent harm does not need to be right or wrong; that is, it needs to be reasonable under the circumstances. It is an objective standard – which  requires the jury to determine if a reasonable person in the same position would believe they were in imminent danger, not whether you were in imminent danger.

Reasonable Amount of Force

The response to the amount of force used must be reasonable. The general rule in California self-defense law is that you are only allowed to use as much force as is necessary to defend against the force being used against you. There is an exception, however. If the person has been previously threatened by the person they are asserting the self-defense claim against, they are entitled to act more quickly and with more force than someone who has not been threatened.

There are other types of self-defense. For example, defense of property and defense of others. Self-defense is often associated with crimes of PC 245, Assault With a Deadly Weapon; PC 242, Battery, PC 243(e)(1), PC 273.5, Domestic Violence; PC 243, Battery on a Police Officer, if excessive or unreasonable force was used during the arrest; PC 148, Resisting Arrest; PC 211 Robbery; PC 187, Murder, and PC 459, Burglary.

If you have been arrested or are under investigation, and feel you were defending yourself or someone else, contact my office today. We provide a free, confidential consultation.