Self-Defense Laws in New Jersey
Most Americans believe that they can legally use force to protect themselves in the event of an attack, or the threat of death or bodily injury by another. What most Americans don’t realize is that the law of self defense is not always applicable as a defense. There are fine lines that divide what is justifiable and what is not considered justifiable unlawful force. In New Jersey, these laws protect not only those who claim to be acting in self-defense, but also those who suffer serious injury or death as a result of someone claiming to act in self-defense.
Self-defense laws protect those who use unlawful force to protect themselves in situations where they believe they are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death at the hands of another. Unfortunately, a person who seriously injures or kills another person in what they believe to be self defense can still find themselves facing legal battles. To be protected by the law of self-defense, the defender must prove that they used unlawful force that was equal to what their attacker was using, or was threatening to use. If the defender used an unlawful force that was unequal to the amount of force being used against them, the law of self-defense may not apply. For instance, if a person uses a firearm against someone who is threatening to slap or push them, the defender would most likely be unable to apply the self-defense law.
While all citizens have the right to protect themselves from unlawful trespassers, or from people who enter their homes without consent, the use of unlawful force must be justified. A defender is justified in using deadly or unlawful force if the trespasser or intruder threatens such force against them, or if they are in the act of committing a theft crime or a crime of arson. The defender should also give warning to the trespasser before using unlawful force if that warning would not put the defender or others in danger. Deadly force is not justifiable if the defender fails to utilize a safe escape from the situation if one is available.
The law of self-defense can also be justified in the case of a defender acting on behalf of a third party. If the defender believes that the use of unlawful force is necessary to protect the third party from serious or fatal bodily injury, then the force can be justified as an act of self-defense. The burden of proof in this case will fall on the defender.
The New Jersey self-defense laws apply to criminal and civil cases. Special considerations can be taken by a judge or jury if extreme stress or emotional distress is present at the time the defender decided to use unlawful force.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, provides Aggressive Defense to those Charged with a Crime
If you have been formally charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey it is a serious matter. Call the Camden County law firm of Jill R. Cohen or complete their online contact form to schedule a consultation. For over 30 years, New Jersey criminal defense lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, has practiced criminal law as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney giving her the distinct advantage of knowing both sides of the law. Experienced and dedicated Camden County criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen can ensure that your legal rights are protected and your best interests are served. Ms. Cohen has successfully defended clients throughout South Jersey including in Camden City, Cherry Hill and Mt. Holly and throughout Burlington County, Salem County, Cumberland County, Mercer County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County and Camden County.