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Will I Go to Jail for Using Violence in Self-Defense?

In situations such as domestic violence, rape, assault, battery, and even robberies, you may need to protect yourself against another person's aggressive acts. In fact, both the United States Constitution and California state law allow you to defend yourself against undue harm. However, the police may still charge you for a crime related to your acts of self-defense.
If you are charged for criminal violence, you will need a skilled lawyer to help you put up a strong defense. Additionally, you should post bail or get a bail bonds agent to pay bail on your behalf as soon as possible. Securing an early release from custody will help you prepare for your upcoming court hearing.
Read on to learn more about using violence in self-defense.

Self-Defense Basics 

Self-defense is the act of using force to protect yourself from danger. Law enforcement officers do not actually arrest an individual for self-defense but for engaging in actions that, at face value, are criminal. 
Self-defense is therefore not a crime but rather a criminal defense strategy that you can use in court to justify why you engaged in otherwise unlawful acts.

Self-Defense Laws 

In California, the law permits you to defend yourself or another person against danger. However, you will need to prove to the jury that
your use of force was, in fact, self-defense and not an intentional criminal act.
You are justified to argue self-defense if at the time of committing your crime:
  1. You reasonably believed that you faced a real danger of being seriously injured, unlawfully touched, or killed.
  2. You reasonably believed that to prevent that danger, you needed to use immediate force.
  3. You used proportionate force to prevent the danger.
The state's stand-your-ground law allows you to use reasonable force to defend yourself until the imminent danger has passed, even if you had the option of running away from the attacker.

Self-Defense Legal Consequences  

During your court hearing, the prosecutor must prove to the court that the three elements of self-defense do not apply to your case and that you did not act in self-defense.
Even if you manage to convince the jury that your acts of violence were in self-defense, you might not be free from criminal liability. This means that depending on the consequences of your use of force, you might still serve time in jail, though the court may reduce your sentence.
For example, if your use of force in self-defense resulted in the aggressor's death because you used a disproportionate amount of force, you might be criminally liable. However, the court might lower your charge from murder to voluntary manslaughter, which can reduce your jail term.
In deciding whether you are criminally liable, the court will also consider factors such as whether the aggressor made a good-faith effort to stop fighting but you still proceeded to use force against him or her. Additionally, the court may also consider whether you honestly but unreasonably believed that the aggressor presented a real danger.
However, generally, the court will let you go if the prosecution cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that your actions were not in self-defense.
Cases involving the use of force in self-defense can be complex, and the death of the aggressor can complicate the matter further. Whether you will go to jail will depend on your lawyer's ability to present a case so watertight that the prosecutor cannot invalidate.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime for acting in self-defense and you want a release from custody as fast as possible, Albert Ramirez Bail Bonds can help. Call us if you need financial help posting bail.