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Homicide defenses might include self-defense

For anyone who is being charged with a violent crime, there are often several factors that can affect the defense options. In some cases, the person who was charged with murder or manslaughter might have been defending themselves from the person who was killed.

A self-defense defense strategy is only appropriate when certain elements were present during the incident. You have to have been in fear for your life when you killed the victim. The threat against you doesn’t always have to be made physically. Even verbal threats can meet the requirement that you were in imminent danger; however, the words must convey a serious physical threat. Someone calling you names or making offensive statements wouldn’t meet the requirement for a verbal threat that indicates imminent danger.

When you use a self-defense defense option, you have to show that your actions were proportionate to the threat against your life. That means that if the threat only involved minor force, you wouldn’t be able to justify killing someone.

In some cases, you might have to show that you tried to retreat from the threat. Of course, this doesn’t apply for cases that meet the requirement for the state’s stand your ground law or the state’s castle doctrine. In both of those cases, using deadly force might be lawful.

If you are considering a self-defense defense option for a homicide case, you will have to determine if the circumstances meet the requirements for self-defense. While some cases clearly show that a person was defending him or herself, other cases have some circumstances that might call self-defense into question.

Source: FindLaw, “Self-Defense Overview,” accessed Oct. 09, 2015