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When can you claim self-defense? 

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2023 | Violent crimes

One common defense to assault and battery or even homicide charges is that of self-defense. You do have the legal ability to defend yourself with force. This does not mean you will not be arrested, but claiming self-defense is a way to show that your actions were justified – even when they otherwise may have been illegal. 

But when can you use self-defense? There are some very important guidelines to keep in mind:

You genuinely believe you’re in danger 

First off, you must honestly believe that you are in danger of serious injury or even death. You can then respond with a reasonable amount of force. This force cannot exceed what is necessary; for instance, using a weapon can be seen as excessive force for a situation, even when some level of self-defense was justified. 

You could not safely retreat

Next, Maryland law does mean that you have an obligation to retreat if you can do so safely. If it’s impossible, then you do not have to, but physical force should only be used when it is clear that you cannot avoid the confrontation.

If you are in your home, then you don’t have to leave or retreat. You can use reasonable force and stand your ground. The duty to retreat only applies when you are outside of the house and no longer on your personal property. 

Understanding your options

As noted above, you can certainly be arrested for using force against someone else, even when it was justified. You must know about all of the legal options you have at that time.