Your right to self-defense means that you can protect yourself even if you have to harm someone else to do so. However, there are limitations on the right to self-defense.
Every state has different laws, which leads to a lot of confusion about what is legal and what is not. For example, in some states, you have a duty to retreat before using physical force — especially lethal force. Do you have a duty to retreat before attempting to defend yourself in Maryland?
The duty to retreat depends on the location
Maryland has some very specific limitations on physical violence for self-defense. Someone claiming they acted in self-defense will need to show that they were not the aggressor or instigator and that they had reasonable fear for their own safety. They also usually need to show that they only used the amount of force that they believed was absolutely necessary to protect themselves or someone else.
When in a public location, like the parking lot of a grocery store, your right to self-defense comes with a duty to retreat. That means you should attempt to leave the situation before using physical force to resolve it. However, in a scenario where someone breaks into your home, you do not have to retreat before defending yourself in your own living space.
Knowing the laws regarding self-defense can help you in a moment of panic. That knowledge can also benefit you after the fact if you find yourself facing criminal allegations. Seeking legal guidance is crucial if you’re facing allegations of murder or manslaughter related to an act of self-defense.