Gavel resting on a pair of handcuffsWhen it comes to laws, whether state or federal, the only sure thing is that each law has an exception, and yes, this applies even to hurting or killing someone. In Washington, for instance, you could justify hurting or killing another individual if you did it as self-defense or to defend another individual.

But this self-defense exception also comes with even more exceptions and complications, which makes it extremely hard to understand.

What exactly is self-defense?

The defense of self-defense is typically used by individuals accused of violent crimes such as assault and battery or murder. To claim self-defense, you must admit that you are in fact guilty of the crime you’re accused of, but that you did because the other person was threatening to harm or kill you. An experienced defense attorney in Marysville explains a self-defense case has to establish the following factors:

  • The aggressor – Who did what first?
  • Did the offender believe that acting in self-defense was reasonable given the specific circumstance of the incident?
  • If yes, could the “amount of force” that the offender used to be considered reasonable?

For example, if a person comes up to you and starts threatening that he or she will beat you up and you have every reason to believe that the person is really going to do it, you might still not be able to use self-defense as a defense if you responded by whipping out a knife and stabbing the person multiple times. No court would consider your response to be reasonable and you would probably be the main aggressor in that scenario.

The bottom line

Despite the exceptions and intricacies of self-defense, it’s vital to understand beforehand when it’s legally reasonable to defend yourself if someone threatens you or is already hurting you. Knowing when exactly you could defend yourself to stop someone from harming you could mean the difference between being exonerated of your crime due to self-defense or being convicted.