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Self-Defense Murder Explained
(Can You Go to Jail for It?)

Believe it or not, you could potentially go to prison for killing someone who was threatening you or your family. It’s not uncommon for people to be prosecuted on homicide charges even when they acted in self-defense, as the legal system may see the threat the person faced as not serious enough to justify the use of deadly force.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.


What is Self Defense?

Self-defense is defined as the use of force to protect oneself from an attempted injury by another. If the act is found to be justified, self-defense can be a defense to certain crimes involving force, including murder, assault, and battery.

What is Justifiable Homicide?

The concept of justifiable homicide is a defense to culpable homicide, which is criminal or negligent homicide. In most U.S. states, homicide is considered justified when there is sufficient evidence to disprove the alleged criminal act or wrongdoing.

The key to proving justifiable homicide is to demonstrate that it was reasonable for the subject to believe that there was an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent by the deceased when they committed the homicide.

What is the Castle Doctrine?

The castle doctrine stipulates that an individual's home or any other legally occupied place is a place where that person has protections and immunities permitting one (in certain circumstances) to use force to defend oneself against an intruder, free from legal prosecution. The term "castle doctrine" is most commonly used in the U.S., though many other countries have similar laws.

What is a Stand Your Ground Law?

A stand-your-ground law dictates that people may use deadly force when they reasonably believe it to be necessary to defend against violent crimes. Under such a law, people have no duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense, so long as they are in a place where they are lawfully present.

Related Article: Is California Stand Your Ground State?

Castle Doctrine vs. Stand Your Ground

The “castle doctrine” maintains that your home is your castle, and you have the right to use lethal force to defend your home and not retreat, whereas “stand your ground” says that even when a person is outside their home, they can stay where they are without retreating, even if they can avoid the danger by retreating.

When is it Self Defense and When is it Manslaughter?

Although a person may kill someone else in self-defense, this type of killing is not considered a crime the way manslaughter and murder are. Different states have different guidelines regarding what legally qualifies as self-defense. For example, some states impose a duty to retreat in which the defendant must attempt to flee from the danger before exerting force. Other states only permit someone not to retreat if they were in their own home at the time of the attack.

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If you feel affected by any of these matters, you should contact a criminal defense attorney and seek help.

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