Christina Rivenbark & Associates ATTORNEYS AT LAW

When is self-defense legally justified?

The it may seem as though the default justification offered by those accused of violent crimes in Wilmington is that they were acting in self-defense. You may immediately skeptical when hearing such claims, yet in the event that you are the one making the claim, then you most certainly would want to know under what circumstances your use of force may be justified. 

North Carolina has enacted a "stand your ground" law that can be found in Section 14-51.3 of the state's Criminal Law Code. Here, it states that you have no duty to retreat (and, by extension, are permitted to defend yourself or others) if situations where the fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury is present. Defining when such belief may exist may seem like a subjective task (and thus open to interpretation and/or misuse). However, the law has established a very clear definition of when such a belief is assumed. 

You are presumed to have a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury when one has (or has attempted to) unlawfully enter your home, vehicle or place of employment, or is attempting to remove you or another from such a place against your or another person's will. The same holds true if you have reason to believe that such an act has or has already been done. 

The permissible use of force stops short of allowing you to use deadly force, or to use it against a police officer or bail bondsman (which have themselves as such) who is in the course of executing their duties. You also cannot use force against one who was abandoned the attempt at unlawful activity. If you use force in compliance with the law, however, you cannot be held criminally or civilly liable for the outcome of a situation. 

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4009 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, NC 28403

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