Understanding Self-Defense in Criminal Cases: 5 Things to Know

When you are facing charges for certain types of criminal offenses in Rochester, you may be able to raise the defense of self-defense. In order to have a successful self-defense strategy to beat the criminal charges you are facing, you will need to be accused of a criminal offense involving physical force for which your actions can be justified. While you should always work with an experienced Rochester criminal defense lawyer to determine whether self-defense is a good strategy for your case, our firm wants to provide you with more information about this type of defense. The following are five things you should know about self-defense in criminal cases in New York.

  1. Self-Defense May Be a Good Defense Strategy for Many Kinds of Charges

While self-defense certainly will not apply to certain criminal charges (such as a DUI or most white collar crimes), it may be applicable to a wide variety of criminal offenses in New York. For example, the following are criminal charges for which you may be able to successfully claim self-defense based on the facts of your case:

  • Assault;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Battery;
  • Manslaughter; and
  • Murder.
  1. You Can Claim Self-Defense If You Were Defending Yourself

When you claim self-defense, you are claiming that there was a justification for your actions that led to the injury or death of another person. The justification is that you used physical force in order to defend yourself. Many self-defense claims involve a criminal offense in which a person used physical force in order to prevent harm to himself or herself.

  1. You Can Also Raise the Defense of Self-Defense If You Were Defending Another Person

Under New York law, you can also claim self-defense if you were using physical force to defend another person. This is sometimes known as defense of a third person. Here is what the law says:

“A person may . . . use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself, herself, or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by such other person . . .” 

  1. You Cannot Raise the Defense of Self-Defense If You Started the Confrontation 

You cannot claim self-defense if you provoked the other person with the intention of causing physical injury.

  1. Burden of Proof Is On the Prosecutor

While self-defense is, in theory, an affirmative defense in that you are acknowledging that you engaged in an act that led to the charges you are facing, it is important to know that self-defense is different from affirmative defenses like entrapment or insanity in that it places the burden of proof on the prosecutor. Indeed, once you claim self-defense, the prosecutor will need to prove that you did not act in self-defense or that the defense is otherwise inapplicable to your case.

Contact Our Rochester Criminal Defense Attorneys Today for More Information

If you are facing criminal charges and need assistance working on a defense strategy for your case, one of our experienced Rochester criminal defense lawyers can discuss your options with you. A strong defense will always be tailored to the specific facts of your case and the elements of the offense you are facing. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to learn more about how we can help. Contact King Law today for more information about fighting the criminal charges you are facing in New York. 


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