Understanding California’s Self Defense Laws

The California law allows you to act in self defense when in immediate danger. How does the court determine if you acted in self defense?

When you are in immediate harm, the law in the state of California provides that you have the right to act in your own defense. What constitutes an acceptable use of force? When can you act in self defense in California? What types of self defense are allowable under the California law? 

If you are facing charges for using force in California for defending yourself against a threat, the San Diego Law Office of Joni Eisenstein can help you. Our attorney understands the laws regarding self defense and can use them to help you prove your case to get the results that you want. Contact the Office of Joni Eisenstein to set up your free consultation to learn how we can help you get the justice you deserve.  

Schedule your free consultation today. Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Joni Eisenstein.

What is Self Defense Under the California Law? 

The law allows a person to use force to defend themselves or others, and their real or personal property, when they reasonably believe that there is an imminent threat. This means that you can use a reasonable level of force to protect yourself when you feel that your safety is in danger. Self defense can be claimed by a defendant in circumstances where they are protecting themselves, another person or his or her property. 

Some common examples of acceptable self defense actions may include: 

  • Fighting off an attacker during an attempted mugging 
  • Using physical force to protect the life of another person 
  • Killing a person who is attempting to murder or rape 

Establishing Self Defense 

If you have been accused of using excessive or deadly force, your San Diego criminal defense attorney may help you establish a legal defense using the self defense laws. In this defense, the defendant will affirm that they did in fact use force against another person, which in most cases would not be legal under the law. However, because the acts were used in defense of oneself, another person or property, the force was justified. 

There are several aspects of the law that must be considered in order to establish a legal defense of self defense: 

There was reasonable belief that the defendant was in imminent danger and that physical force was required to prevent harm; and, the amount of force used was the minimum required to adequately stop the danger or harm. 

Imminent Danger: 

The use of force must be proven to have been in reaction to an imminent threat. This means that the threat must be immediate, present and pertaining to something happening now, not in the past or future. For example, a person threatening to punch someone the next day does not indicate an imminent threat. However, if these same two individuals were in a verbal altercation and one moves to punch the other, there is an imminent threat and it would be justified to use self defense in this case. 

Reasonable Belief: 

In order to successfully use this defense, they must prove that they reasonably believed that a threat existed, even if the threat truly did not exist. The jury will need to find that the defendant could have believed the threat existed based on the information the defendant had available to them, and that their response was reasonable for the situation. 

Reasonable Force: 

The amount of force used must be considered, by a reasonable person, to be equal to the threat itself. A defendant cannot use more force than would be reasonably required to stop the threat. For example, it would not be considered reasonable force to shoot a person who was stealing a purse or items from a vehicle. 

California Self Defense Laws 

California is considered a “Stand Your Ground” state. This means that the state does not require you to flee from a threat before resorting to physical force. You are entitled to “stand your ground”  and defend yourself or your property. 

California is also considered a “Castle Doctrine” state, meaning that you are entitled to defend your home from an intruder without needing to retreat. The homeowner has the right to use deadly force because any forceable intrusion into the home is considered a reasonable threat of imminent harm. 

San Diego Self Defense Attorney 

If you have been charged with assault or murder for protecting yourself or your loved ones, you may be able to establish a strong case for self defense. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can prove that the use of force was justified. 

Contact the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein today to get the help you need to fight your criminal charges.  

If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now

Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.