Personal Injury, Criminal Law, Traffic Violations, and Family Law & Divorce

Can you take self-defense too far?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2022 | Domestic Violence

You certainly have a right to defend yourself if you are attacked, even if that means using physical force to do so. This doctrine is known as self-defense. In a lot of cases, people who are practicing self-defense do still get arrested, but they can show that their actions were justified.

What you may be wondering, however, is if you’re walking a rather thin line. If you accidentally take things too far, would that mean that you can no longer use self-defense as a legal defense for your actions? Or are you allowed to use force in any way you see fit because you were just trying to protect yourself?

You can use a sufficient level of force

The general rule for self-defense is that you can use a sufficient amount of force to counter whatever threat you’re facing. This is obviously a bit of a vague term, and it creates something of a gray area. But the force you use is simply supposed to be roughly equal to the force being used against you.

For instance, if someone else draws a gun and threatens you with it, you’d be within your rights to use a firearm to defend yourself. But if someone simply pushes you to the ground during a disagreement, using a firearm to defend yourself could be seen as going beyond the level of necessary force. This can be true even though you weren’t the aggressor at the beginning of the encounter.

This situation can get complicated and the stakes are high, so make sure you know about all of your defense options.