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2 instances when you can argue self-defense in a criminal trial

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2022 | Criminal Defense

One of the defense options you can consider when charged with a violent crime in New Jersey is self-defense. 

Also known as the “complete” or “affirmative” defense to murder, self-defense does not relegate your charge to a lesser one or reduce your conviction. Rather, if your self-defense argument is successful, then you will be set free by the court. 

Understanding New Jersey self-protection law

New Jersey self-defense statute states that the use of force is justifiable when there is a reasonable belief that such action is necessary for protection. This means that certain conditions must be met before you can use force for self-defense. These include:

  • The victim was trying to harm you or someone else
  • Your immediate action (use of force) was necessary to prevent the victim from harming you
  • Your use of force in self-defense was proportionate to the threat

So when can you argue self-defense?

While self-defense is generally understood to involve the use of proportionate force to protect yourself from a violent attack, New Jersey law recognizes other instances when you can argue self-defense during a criminal trial. Here are some of these instances:

Protecting yourself is perhaps the most commonly recognized type of self-defense. If someone attacks or threatens to attack you, then you have a legal right to use force to defend yourself from such an attack. 

Conversely, New Jersey self-defense laws also allow you to use force to protect someone else from an attack. 

You should never be convicted of a violent crime you believe you weren’t the cause of, especially if the law is on your side. If you are charged with a violent crime when you have the legal right to respond the way you did, then you need to explore your defense options.