Self-defense is a legal defense used to abrogate a violation of the law. It is applicable when the action in question is justifiable and reasonable. California permits individuals to act in self-defense of themselves, others, and property. California law even allows persons to use deadly force when defending themselves or other persons when certain circumstances are present.

There is no duty to retreat in California and the use of deadly force against an intruder may be lawful in one’s residence. The “Stand Your Ground Doctrine” places no duty to retreat by a person who uses reasonably necessary force inside or outside a residence. The “Castle Doctrine“ applies in a person’s residence or place of abode. This doctrine states that a person does not have to retreat when someone breaks into his or her residence and may use deadly force in defense of himself or herself, as well as anyone else in the home.

Self-defense of others requires:

  1. the defendant reasonably believed that the other person was in imminent danger;
  2. the defendant reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary to prevent the danger; and
  3. the defendant used no more force than necessary.

Self-defense of property requires:

  1. an imminent threat of harm to a person’s property, and
  2. only the use of reasonable force to defend the property.

The law considers the use of deadly force in defense of others as justified, and not unlawful if the following apply:

  • There was a reasonable belief that the danger was imminent. Note that the imminent danger must be immediate and present, and therefore must be of a nature that requires instant attention;
  • There was a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to defend against the danger;
  • No more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against the danger.

Self-defense may arise as justification for a criminal act when the following crimes occur:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Assault
  • Robbery, or
  • Any action that places you or another person at risk of suffering great bodily harm.

California’s “Stand Your Ground” law imposes no duty on individuals to retreat when faced with imminent danger. As long as your belief that an imminent danger exists is reasonable, you may assert that you acted in self-defense provided that the degree of force used to protect another person must be proportionate to the threat of danger posed at that very moment.

John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.

Self-Defense of Others and Property