DEFENSE OF SELF AND OTHERS
When the police are summoned to the scene of a fight that resulted in bodily injury or death, they will often arrest one of the involved parties even if there is strong evidence that the person arrested was acting in lawful self defense. Prosecutors are often too quick to prosecute the person who wins, or survives, a violent encounter. However, using reasonable force in the defense of self or another is a complete defense to a criminal charge. It is important, therefore, to understand your right to defend yourself both in and out of court.
In Long Beach, attorney Matthew Kaestner is a criminal defense specialist with over two decades of experience asserting the rights of his client's to defend themselves. He has successfully argued self defense to juries on cases ranging from murder to simple battery. If you or a loved one is accused of a crime of violence, call Mr. Kaestner for his expert advice. Mr. Kaestner can be contacted directly at (562) 437-0200.
The following is a brief overview of the law of self defense law in California.
The law in California allows a person who reasonably believes he is being attacked or about to be attacked to use all force and means that would appear reasonably necessary to prevent that attack. Actual danger is not required in order for self defense to be exercised if someone is faced with what reasonably appears to be danger of an attack. If that appearance of danger causes the person, and would cause a reasonable person, to believe an attack is about to happen, he can use all means reasonably necessary to defend himself or another person.
The amount of force used by a person who is placed in reasonable fear of an imminent attack must be reasonable under the circumstances. Therefore, if someone is attacked with fists, he cannot resort to deadly force, unless it appears reasonable that the attack with fists is likely to cause great bodily injury or death. At a trial, once the accused presents evidence of the need to exercise self defense, the prosecution must DISPROVE the existence of self defense beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain an conviction.
In California, the law will presume a person to have "reasonable fear of great bodily injury or death" when that person is confronted by an intruder in the home or entering the home. In general, however, the level of force a person uses must be reasonable based upon the level of force used by the attacker.
When someone is threatened with an attack that justifies the use of force in self defense, the person doesn't have to attempt to run away or otherwise retreat. A person attacked can lawfully "stand his ground" and use all reasonably necessary force to repel the attack. Someone who has been attacked may even pursue the attacker if such pursuit is necessary to obtain safety. Even if it would have been easier or safer to gain safety by running away, a person may still use force in self defense.
When a person accused of a crime raises self defense in court, he is allowed to prove that the alleged victim had, on prior occasions, threatened or assaulted him. In addition, the jury will be instructed that a person who was previously been threatened or assaulted by the attacker may act more quickly and take harsher measures in self defense than someone who hadn't been so previously assaulted or threatened.
The right to use force in defense of self or others ends when the attacker has been disabled or when the danger from the attack is over. The right of self defense cannot be manufactured by starting an argument or fight to create the false impression of the need for lawful defense of self or another. Also, self defense cannot be claimed by a person who engages in a violent confrontation by express or implied agreement or mutual consent. Thus persons who agree to fight, or duel, cannot claim self defense.
And, as has been pointed out, the right to defend one's self against an attack is also the right to defend another person from an unlawful attack. The law in California previously limited the use of force against an attack to defending one's self and family members. The law currently allows a person to use force to defend anyone who is being unlawfully attacked.
A property owner or lawful occupant of property has the right to request that a trespasser leave the property. A trespasser who refuses a request to leave within a reasonable period of time can be forcibly ejected. The ejection can be accomplished with that level of force that is necessary to prevent property damage or injury to the occupants.
Personal property can also be defended with reasonable force. Of course, any force used may not be excessive or unjustified. Only very limited force, and certainly not deadly force, can be used to defend personal property. An exception exists to prevent the forcible taking of property as would be the case with robbery. Robbery is a violent felony and deadly force can be used to protect one's self from a robbery, sexual assault, or other violent felony.
If death or serious injury occurs as the result of a violent confrontation, a prosecutor's office will often files charges against the person who was simply defending himself or another innocent party. A grieving family member or person injured in a fight can place great pressure on a prosecutor to punish the person responsible, even when that person was simply acting defensively.
Long Beach's criminal lawyer, Matthew Kaestner, has successfully defended many clients who by acting to defend themselves used lawful force. These clients have faced charges including murder, attempted murder, and assault. Mr. Kaestner has obtained outright dismissals of felony assault charges at the early stages of the proceedings by establishing self defense with his cross-examination of alleged victims. Mr. Kaestner understands that successfully raising this defense requires experience, hard work, attention to detail, and a willingness to fight. Mr. Kaestner can be contacted directly at (562) 688-3445.
Matt Kaestner Attorney. This website is designed for informational use only and the information presented on this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
For more information about the Law Office of Matthew Kaestner visit his site at www.lbcrimlaw.com.