No one likes to be pushed around or subjected to violence at the hands of another person. In fact, individuals generally enjoy the freedom to be protected from the aggression of others. For this reason, Illinois and other jurisdictions throughout the United States recognize that individuals subjected to violence or assault may defend themselves when confronted with imminent threats to their person.
This defense, aptly named self-defense, applies when a person has an imminent fear that violence will befall them from an aggressive party. The victim may generally use a proportional level of violence to stop or deter the aggressor from their actions. For example, a person alleging self-defense may struggle to make their criminal defense strategy stand up if they used a gun to defend themselves from an unarmed person.
During a criminal trial in which a defendant alleges self-defense, an inquiry may be made into whether it was reasonable for them to have an imminent fear of danger or if their response was reasonable given the circumstances of the alleged event. A court may look into if the defendant had options for de-escalating the situation or if retreating to avoid harm from the alleged aggressor was an option. They may consider the environment in which the incident occurred and give special consideration to the defendant if the incident occurred in that party’s home.
Self-defense can be a complete defense to certain criminal charges, but there are many elements of the defense that must be proven for a defendant to be successful. For this reason, individuals who plan to use self-defense strategies can benefit from getting more information about this potential criminal defense strategy.