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Legal Use of Deadly Force in Somerset County

Even when it involves deadly force, self-defense can be a total defense against certain criminal charges in some situations. However, since it is an affirmative defense, you must prove that you meet all necessary elements of the defense in order to utilize it in your case.

When facing criminal charges related to your use of force in self-defense, you should ensure you have the legal advice you may need before attempting to argue in court on their own.

If you choose to retain one, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you establish the legal use of deadly force in Somerset County.

Using Deadly Force for Protection

One of the most important elements of using self-defense in a criminal case is proving that the defendant used reasonable force based on the circumstances they were facing. This is particularly important with deadly force, because the criminal charges they would be likely to face in this situation are severe.

New Jersey Revised Statutes §2C:3-4(2) addresses the use of deadly force in self-protection. This degree of force is not legal unless the individual using that force believes it is required to protect themselves from death or serious bodily harm.

Provoking Force

It is not legal for someone to use deadly force in New Jersey if they provoked the force being used against them, or if they knew they could safely avoid using deadly force by retreating, surrendering possession of something, or complying with someone’s demands. There are only two exceptions to the latter scenario.

First, public officers justified in using force in the performance of their duties are not required to refrain from doing so due to resistance by someone they encounter in the course of said duties. Second, individuals have no duty to retreat from their own homes and may use deadly force if they reasonably believe it is immediately necessary to protect themselves or others in the home from the use of unlawful force by an intruder, unless the homeowner was the aggressor in this scenario. Using deadly force solely to protect personal property is not justifiable. However, there may be situations in which deadly force to protect personal property is justified under another provision.

Using Deadly Force Against a Trespasser

According to N.J.R.S. §2C:3-6, the use of non-deadly force to protect personally owned property is lawful when individuals are legally present on that property and reasonably believe that force is required to stop a criminal trespass by another person. However, using deadly force is not legal in Somerset County unless the trespasser is trying to commit arson, burglary, or certain other criminal offenses, and unless the individual using deadly force reasonably believes at least one of the following is true:

  • The person committing a crime has used or threatened deadly force
  • Using non-deadly force to stop the crime from occurring would expose the property owner or another party to a substantial risk of injury
Get Advice About Somerset County Legal Use of Deadly Force from an Attorney

When you are facing charges involving the death of another, the stakes are high no matter how defensible your actions may seem. As a result, being informed about the legal use of deadly force in Somerset County is often essential to building a strong defense against related criminal charges.

By working closely with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to defend yourself from charges of wrongdoing. Choose the safer path by enlisting the assistance of an attorney to guide you throughout your criminal proceedings.