Can I Be Charged With A Crime For Defending Someone?

You may take aggressive actions towards another if you are defending another person. But just because you acted in defense of someone doesn’t mean that the state won’t bring criminal charges against you. These charges often come with severe penalties and potentially lengthy jail sentences. Therefore, we encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers if an officer has charged you with a criminal offense in California.

California’s Defense Of Others Law

Unfortunately, heinous crimes are committed frequently in Los Angeles. Many of these awful crimes are against fellow citizens. Sometimes, the only way to prevent these crimes is to step in and take offensive action to defend another person. When you’re defending another person, the law tends to protect you from receiving assault or battery charges. California’s defense of others law stipulates that for you to raise this defense, you must reasonably believe that someone else is in immediate danger of physical harm, and force is necessary to prevent this harm from occurring.

But what if your actions don’t meet each element? What if a judge or jury finds that there wasn’t enough evidence for you to have reasonably believed immediate danger was present or that the force you used was necessary? Then, under some conditions, you may use an imperfect defense of others to absolve yourself. In such a case, a more serious crime, such as homicide, may be reduced to voluntary manslaughter.

Los Angeles Crimes Frequently Associated With Defense Of Others

Many Los Angeles crimes are often associated with you defending another person. These crimes are often assault, domestic battery, domestic violence, and can even be murder. For example, suppose that you’re out jogging when you see a man attacking a woman. He puts a knife to her throat. You have a permit to carry, so you retrieve your firearm and warn the man to let the woman go. But he refuses to listen, so you fire one shot. In this case, you have a good chance of winning on a claim of defense of others. But there is no shortage of scenarios that can occur, so your lawyer will need to be informed of your specific case to know how self-defense of others applies.

You may be defending someone from rape, robbery, burglary, or another violent crime. Bear in mind, though, that this defense may not apply if you used excessive or unnecessary force to prevent the harm from occurring. If we take our example above, if you fired a shot without the attacker having a deadly weapon that put the woman in immediate danger, then your actions will seem less reasonable. The law doesn’t permit you to act unreasonably, even when you’re trying to help others. Thus, if the attacker was weaponless, using your hands to stop him should suffice.

Contact An Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your liberty and reputation are at stake when the state arrests you and accuses you of committing a violent crime. Violent misdemeanor crimes can result in a sentence of up to a year in county jail, but a violent felony can result in a life sentence. Don’t let this happen to you. The Justice Firm consists of experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers with accolades and results you can trust. You can view a complete list of our capable lawyers here. That’s not all. We offer immediate responses to your inquiries through our 24/7 live answering service. You may call us toll-free at 866-695-6714 or locally at 310-914-2444. To schedule a free consultation, you may also fill out our contact form here.

Learn more from The Justice Firm’s criminal defense attorneys about self defense.

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