It is not uncommon when reviewing news of criminal cases in Ohio County to hear that a defendant claim that his or her actions were in self-defense. While many may view this as the standard response to any allegations involving violence, we here at the Scott C. Brown Law Office can attest to the fact that such a defense may indeed be valid, and is recognized by the law. It may behoove you to understand the state’s self-defense statute if you are facing the potential for criminal penalties in a case where you felt your response to a threat was justified.
The scenario in which you may be justified in using force (even deadly force) to protect yourself is spelled out in the West Virginia Criminal Jury Instructions. These instructions state that you are allowed to respond with force in situations where you were not the aggressor in an altercation, and you felt that doing so was the only way to save yourself from the imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. In such a case, your words alone would not qualify as aggression.
In deciding whether or not your use of force to defend yourself was justified, a jury must apply the standard of whether or not a reasonably prudent person put in the same situation would have acted similarly. Case rulings have further specified that that your fear of imminent harm or death cannot be based on surmises. For example, you may not be justified in attacking a person you believe may have a weapon. However, if he or she does indeed brandish a weapon, that may evidence his or her intention to harm you.
You can learn more about defending yourself from criminal accusations by continuing to explore our site.