Self Defense

NJ Criminal Lawyer

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A NJ criminal defense which many lay people have heard before is “self-defense.” A specific statute exists in New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 2c-3-4a, which addresses this defense and sets forth the instances where the defense applies. In this regard, use of force is justified where it is reasonably necessary to protect the actor from another using unlawful force against the actor. The law is careful to point out, however, that self defense does not apply where: (1) the physical threat is posed by a law enforcement officer (even an unlawful arrest); or (2) the force is presented by an occupier of land who possesses a claim of right to protect the property. The nature of the force used in self defense typically has to be consistent with the risk posed. In other words, use of deadly force in self defense is only justified where it is undertaken to protect against a reasonably contemplated risk of serious injury or death.

Force to Protect Third Parties

Force may be utilized to protect others provided self defense would otherwise be justified if the risk was to the actor himself. There is an additional requirement for this defense to apply, namely, that the actor reasonably believes that the assistance is necessary to prevent harm to the third party.

While the defense of self defense can initially appear basic, the concept is actually quite complicated. The law always discourages the use of force so prosecutors are often reluctant to invoke this defense without significant legal argument. If you are interested in speaking to an experienced NJ criminal lawyer on this subject, please contact our office. We can be reached 24/7 at 877-450-8301.