Explaining “Self-Defense” Legal Defenses

“Self-defense” is what is termed an “affirmative defense.” This means that you are admitting that you committed the alleged act, but it was justified because it was in self-defense. As an example, walking down the street with a friend, you are approached by a third person who asks you for money. You walk away, telling them to leave you alone. The third person chases after you and appears to have a weapon.

To protect yourself, you assault the aggressor, who falls to the ground and is seriously injured. If you go to court and claim self-defense, you are affirming that you did assault that person, but that what you did was justified. It is important that you understand all the aspects of self-defense under Colorado law, the burden of proof required, and the conditions under which self-defense is not a viable option. If you cannot satisfy the court that self-defense is a valid argument, the jury will not be instructed to apply self-defense after admitting you inflicted harm.

Perfect v. Imperfect Self-Defense

Explaining “Self-Defense” Legal DefensesA “Perfect Self-defense” means that the court finds that your act was not criminal at all. It was entirely justified by the claim of self-defense.  In the scenario above, if others witnessed the person raise a gun, you would have a better chance of “perfect self-defense.”  If, after the fact, it was found the person had no weapon. Self-defense might only lessen the charges you would receive. This is termed an “Imperfect Self-defense.”

Make My Day Law

Colorado has a Make My Day Law, similar to what is frequently called the Castle Doctrine, the idea that every person should be assured of safety inside their own home. They offer wide protection to anyone who uses force against an intruder in their home, including lethal force. There is no “duty to retreat” even when escape is easily available. And force is justified no matter how slight the harm suspected.

Stand Your Ground Law

Colorado‘s Stand Your Ground law covers self-defense outside of your home. It requires that you have a reasonable fear of serious harm to yourself or others. “Reasonable” means that not only did you experience it at the time, but other reasonable people would experience that same fear in the same situation. You must also use only the amount of force appropriate to defend yourself or others. There is not a duty to retreat.

In order to meet the requirements for self-defense lethal force used outside the home must be believed to be the only adequate response to stop the assailant from committing murder or serious bodily harm, robbery, kidnapping, or sexual assault.

When Is Self-defense Not Available?

Self-defense is not an option for a criminal defense case when the accused was the aggressor, provoking the other party into using physical force, or it is a part of combat by agreement not authorized by law (such as a duel, or a gang fight.)

The burden of proof for self-defense lies with the defendant. The defense lawyer representing the accused can provide testimony as well as eyewitnesses, physical evidence including weapons, medical reports, or property damage, a history of violence by the attacker, and other types of evidence in court to help the accused avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction.

Contact The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. (719) 475-2555 to speak with us as early as possible after your arrest.