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What happens if you hurt someone while defending yourself?

Jun 9, 2023 | Violent Crimes

Defending oneself against an imminent threat is a basic human instinct. In California, individuals possess the right to protect themselves from harm within the boundaries of the law.

However, it is essential to understand the potential legal implications that may arise if you cause harm to another person while defending yourself. This article provides an overview of what occurs if you hurt someone while defending yourself in California.

Legal principles of self-defense

California law acknowledges the right to self-defense under specific circumstances. The legal principles of self-defense stem from the belief that individuals have the right to protect themselves or others from harm. According to California law, a person justifiably uses force or even deadly force if they reasonably believe it is necessary to defend against an imminent danger of death or great bodily injury.

Applying the reasonable person standard

When evaluating the legality of self-defense, California courts apply the reasonable person standard. This standard considers what a reasonable person in the same situation would have done to protect themselves. The court examines factors such as the perceived threat, the level of force employed in response and whether the force used was proportional to the threat encountered.

Potential consequences

While self-defense serves as a valid legal defense, it does not grant absolute immunity from consequences. If you hurt someone while defending yourself in California, several potential legal outcomes may arise. If the court deems your use of force justifiable self-defense under the law, you will not face criminal charges.

However, if the court determines that your use of force exceeded what was reasonably necessary for self-defense, you could face criminal charges. The charges may range from assault to more serious offenses depending on the extent of the harm caused. Irrespective of criminal charges, the individual you harmed may initiate a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. In a civil case, they must prove that your actions were negligent, reckless or intentional and caused them harm.

While the right to self-defense exists in California, it is vital to exercise caution and understand the potential legal implications if you hurt someone while defending yourself.