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New York and NYC self defense Criminal lawyers

Sometimes it’s necessary to kill someone to save your own life or the life of another, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be arrested on murder charges. In fact, New York state law has specific guidelines for what qualifies for a self defense rationalization and it will be up to you and your lawyer to show that you acted in accordance with those guidelines.

What Does New York Recognize as Self Defense?
There are a few key factors that must be present for your actions to be considered self defense in a court of law. You must be able to show that you were in a situation in which you had a reasonable belief that your safety was in peril. There’s a standard in law that requires a jury to believe that a “reasonable person” would have felt threatened in that situation and that such a person would have felt compelled to defend him or herself. As long as the defendant can show good cause for having believed the threat was real and imminent, acting in self defense may be justified.

Additionally, the threat must be imminent or immediate, such as being held at gunpoint or observing someone running after you. In the situation, the law allows you to only use as much force as is necessary to eliminate the imminent threat. For instance, if someone tries to stab you with a knife, once you take that knife from them, you have eliminated the threat. If you then go after the individual and stab him, that’s no longer self defense and you’re responsible for that person’s injuries or death.

The Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground
Some states have an allowance for using deadly force to protect their homes, known as the Stand Your Ground clause. While New York state hasn’t incorporated this clause specifically, they do have similar rules in the form of the Castle Doctrine. The doctrine allows you to use deadly force to defend your home against intruders. While it may sound as though both rules are identical, New York’s law specifies that you must be in your home and must be defending it from invasion. The concept behind the Castle Doctrine is that people shouldn’t have to flee from their homes to find safety. Their home should be their safe haven and, as such, they should have the right to defend it.

Duty to Retreat
In some states, an individual has a duty to retreat from imminent harm. Only when that’s not possible is self defense authorized. This is not true of New York. The Castle Doctrine does not establish a duty to retreat, as your home should be your last retreat. For this reason, you may act to defend yourself, upon identifying an attack on your home. The same principle is a part of the Stand Your Ground clause in other states.

Defending Others
In addition to defending yourself and your home, New York law allows you to act to defend others. One common example of this is the authority public servants have to protect others from a threat, such as police officers acting to disarm a gunman. They may use the appropriate level of force needed to subdue the individual and, where the gunman may be firing his weapon, police are authorized to return fire.

The same set of laws in New York authorize parents to use physical force as needed to discipline a child. Physical, but not deadly, force may also be used by correctional officers to maintain order and discipline, physicians to administer medical treatment, or by the common individual to prevent death or serious injury.

Additionally, New York laws establish that an individual may use deadly force to protect another individual. This can include a parent defending a child, but the law doesn’t limit the rule by relationships. A stranger may act to defend another in a life-threatening situation and this would still be in compliance with the self defense doctrine.
Even when you have acted in self defense, it’s important to consult a criminal defense attorney. You will have to establish your version of events and provide proof that you acted in self defense of yourself or another. An experienced attorney can help you present your case and can help ensure your rights are respected.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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