Claiming Self-Defense in California

Are you facing assault or battery charges in Orange County or anywhere else in California? If so, you may be wondering, “But I was defending myself, can I claim self-defense?” Under California law, you have the right to defend yourself. You also have the right to defend other people who are being assaulted or otherwise attacked.

If you start a fight and you use violence against another person, you can be charged with assault or battery, but if you were protecting yourself and you acted in self-defense, you are not guilty of a crime; you have a defense.

So, what would be lawful self-defense under California law? Basically, if you respond to a real and immediate threat, it’s self-defense. For example, if your wife’s ex-husband shows up on your front lawn yelling profanities and he starts punching you for existing, you have every right to use reasonable force to defend yourself.

However, if your wife’s ex-husband shows up screaming at you and says, “One day I’m going to kill you” and you run inside the house, grab your gun and shoot him on the front lawn, that would not be excusable as self-defense because it was not an immediate threat of harm.

No Duty to Retreat in California

After George Zimmerman, a lot of our clients asked us if California is a Stand Your Ground state. Yes, it is and there’s no requirement that people retreat before they use self-defense. For example, let’s say you’re confronted by a robber on the street. You are not required to run away before you fight back. In some states, people have a “duty to retreat,” but that is not the case in California. Under the law, even if you have an opportunity to avoid a confrontation, you have the right to defend yourself; you don’t have the duty to retreat before you can stand your ground – this opens the door wide open for self-defense claims.

Suppose you were charged with assault or battery but you acted in self-defense. The police never bothered to get your side of the story and it’s not mentioned in the police report. In this case, we can conduct a pre-file investigation where we gather evidence and bring it to the prosecutor before he or she files criminal charges. By gathering witness statements and being proactive, we may be able to prevent formal charges from being filed in the first place.

Did you act in self-defense? If so, contact our office for a free case evaluation with an Orange County criminal defense lawyer!

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Law Offices of Virginia Landry, Inc. - Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer
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