Accusations that someone broke the law often result in one of two outcomes. Either the individual accused admits that they did something inappropriate, or they attempt to prove that they are innocent. Sometimes people try to prove that no crime occurred, while other times the criminal defendant just wants to prove that they were not the one who broke the law.
However, that approach doesn’t work in every case. Some people get arrested on the basis of a violent criminal charge, such as assault or even homicide. The state may have significant evidence tying that individual to an incident, but they may believe wholeheartedly that they did not break the law because they acted in self-defense.
When will the Indiana courts allow someone to claim self-defense as a response to pending criminal charges related to a violent incident?
When someone was in reasonable fear for their safety
The most common and straightforward reason for claiming to have acted in self-defense during an altercation is that the individual truly feared for their own safety. If another reasonable person would agree that the circumstances put someone’s safety at risk, then the use of physical force to defend oneself or escape the situation would be theoretically justifiable. Individuals in public spaces and those attacked in their own homes generally have the right to defend themselves using physical force when necessary to avoid bodily injury.
When they want to protect others or their property
Self-defense laws also protect those who act out of concern for their personal property. Individuals can fight back during an attempted robbery, burglary or mugging and then raise claims of self-defense and response to any charges they might face. Self-defense laws can also help protect those who act to shield others from physical harm or criminal activity. An individual could defend themselves with a claim of self-defense if they intervened in a robbery in progress at a store or protected their spouse during an argument turned violent.
Self-defense claims require that someone establish that they had reason to be afraid for their safety or to believe that criminal activity was imminent, and there is often a limit to the use of force as well. Someone’s response should be appropriate given the level of threat that they perceived. Seeking legal guidance can help an individual who has recently been arrested determine if a self-defense claim would be a viable response in their case.