Self-defense is a natural right that allows someone to protect themselves or others against harm. However, self-defense sometimes gets misinterpreted as assault, leading to criminal charges.
There are a few things to understand about self-defense laws and your legal rights.
What the law says
New Jersey law allows the use of force in self-defense or defense of others when someone reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect against unlawful force. Deadly force is only justifiable to prevent serious bodily injury or death. There is no duty to retreat, it could weaken your self-defense claim if an opportunity to retreat safely existed.
Many people misunderstand exactly what constitutes self-defense under the law. For example, you cannot claim self-defense if you are the initial aggressor or provoke the confrontation. Pre-emptive strikes do not qualify as self-defense. Not only that but self-defense may not apply if you use excessive force beyond what is reasonably necessary.
Protect your rights
If you are facing criminal charges for defending yourself, having an attorney on your side can help protect your rights. A skilled lawyer will investigate the context and work to show how your actions were justifiable self-defense, not criminal assault. According to FBI data, over 1.2 million violent crimes occurred in the U.S. in 2019. With violence still a reality, understanding self-defense laws is critical.
While New Jersey allows justified use of force for self-defense, misunderstandings can lead to false assault charges. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights.