If you have been charged with a crime in which you acted in defense of yourself against another person, New Jersey’s self-defense laws may come into play in your case. There are many situations in which self-defense is a viable response; those defending themselves (and others) shouldn’t be convicted of a crime if they acted within the boundaries of the law.

Below, we discuss what the state considers to be acceptable self-defense and under what circumstances the self-defense argument can be used as a defense against criminal responsibility.

Self-Defense Laws in New Jersey

Self-defense is the right to protect yourself against any unlawful force. New Jersey Statutes 2C-3-4(a) provides: “The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”

In other words, the law allows that you can use force against someone if you believe that the force is necessary to protect yourself. If your life is in danger or if you feel that the party is going to inflict serious bodily harm upon you, you have the right to use force to protect yourself.

New Jersey Law: Protecting Your Home

New Jersey self-defense laws can be extremely confusing. For instance, in NJSA §2C:3-6, the Use of force in defense of premises or personal property section has more than a dozen subparts.

Generally, using force in defense of your home is permissible in New Jersey, but there are numerous limitations of that law. You can use force to defend your home, but you first have to ask the intruder to leave. The law provides that you aren’t required to ask them to leave if: 

  • the request would be useless;
  • making the request would put you or others in danger; or
  • “substantial harm will be done to the physical condition of the property which is sought to be protected before the request can effectively be made.”

New Jersey Law: Protecting Others

New Jersey laws also provide that it’s justifiable for you to intervene to defend someone who is in actual or apparent imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.

In order for this defense to be valid, you must have good reason to believe that the force you used was necessary to protect the person. It will be up to you and your attorney to prove that your actions were an act of defense.

Caveats of Self-Defense Arguments

There are many instances in which self-defense is not justifiable in the court’s eyes. For instance, if there was a way for you to retreat and escape harm, the law says you must choose this option rather than using force. (It’s called your “duty to retreat”).

Also, the force you use upon another when you act in self-defense must be proportional to the force used or threatened upon you. For instance, if you are slapped across the face, you cannot respond by using a firearm.

Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney in New Jersey

To speak to an attorney in New Jersey about your case, call criminal defense firm, Dash Farrow, LLP. We can discuss your case with you, determine which self-defense laws apply and begin building a case to support your best interests. Call us for a legal consultation at your convenience: 856-235-8300, or contact us online.

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