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When is self-defense justifiable under New Jersey law?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Violent crimes happen all the time. And while you do everything to avoid dangerous situations, there are times when danger can be inescapable. If you or someone in your vicinity is confronted by a violent attacker, New Jersey laws allow you to use force to protect yourself, other people and property from harm.

However, the tricky aspect of using force in self-defense is that it is not always straightforward. If emotions and adrenaline get the better of you, determining whether the use of force is justifiable can be difficult. That said, if you are charged with a violent crime, and you believe your use of force was appropriate, you may claim self-defense.

Understanding New Jersey self-defense law

Per New Jersey statute, you can use force against another person when you reasonably believe that such force is immediately necessary to stop them from causing harm through unlawful force. For self-defense to be justifiable under New Jersey law, you must be able to satisfy the following elements:

  • You must have believed that you need to use force to protect yourself, someone else or property against another party’s unlawful use of force.
  • You must have believed that the need for force was immediate
  • Your belief must have been “reasonable” and relevant to the prevailing circumstance (i.e, you were not trying to stop a future threat or attack)

Limitations to when you can use force in self-defense

There are instances when the use of force may not be permitted, however. Here are some of these instances:

  • When resisting an arrest. Even if you believe the arrest is unlawful, resisting the police is never a good idea
  • Use of deadly force for reasons other than protection against serious bodily injury, death or property damage

Protecting your rights

Criminal cases involving the use of force can be complicated. If you are facing assault, murder or manslaughter charges, it is important that you understand your legal options so you can effectively defend yourself.