What Are the Self-Defense Laws in New Jersey?

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New Jersey does allow you to defend yourself if you are attacked, but there are limitations. If you harmed someone and you are claiming self-defense, the state can still file charges against you. Whether or not a claim of self-defense can be effective depends on a number of factors, but a Mercer County violent crime lawyer from our firm can help you figure out the best strategy for beating these charges.

When Can Actions Be Considered Self-Defense?

According to state law, your actions can be considered self-defense when:

You are acting to protect yourself: If you have a reasonable belief that you need to protect yourself from an attack from someone else, you can use force to protect yourself.

You are acting to protect another person: If you have a reasonable belief that someone else will be harmed if you do not use force, that can also be self-defense.

You have an intruder in your home: If you threaten deadly force against an intruder and they do not surrender, using force against them could be considered self-defense. You may also be seen as reasonably defending yourself if the intruder is threatening another occupant of your home.

What is a “Duty to Retreat”?

New Jersey is a state that has “duty to retreat” laws. This means that before you use deadly force, you need to make every effort that you can to get out of this situation. Sometimes that just is not possible. Deadly force can be used in self-defense if:

  • You are cornered
  • You are physically restrained
  • You are facing bodily injury or even death

If you were able to get out of the situation and did not take that opportunity to get somewhere safer, it can be more difficult to argue that you acting in self-defense.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Prove Self-Defense?

You are not required to hire a lawyer, but we highly recommend talking to a criminal defense attorney when you are facing criminal charges. You may believe that you did nothing wrong and that you simply acted to defend yourself or others, but if the prosecution does not see things that way you could have some problems.

Punishments for some violent crimes can include fines of more than $10,000 and jail sentences of up to 20 years. An experienced lawyer can help you build the best possible self-defense case and help you avoid these harsh penalties. If you cannot get the charges dismissed, your lawyer may be able to help you plead out to lesser charges.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you are being accused of assault or another violent crime, you need to take the charges seriously. Contact the Law Office of Douglas Herring today and set up a consultation. Take the time to learn more about what an attorney can do for you and how we can help you with your defense.

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