The ability to defend yourself against an armed, violent home intruder is usually guaranteed under the law. Not every state, however, prescribes to the same statutes regarding self-protection. Failing to adhere to the rules associated with a "duty to retreat" could lead to criminal charges. To avoid legal woes, learn what duty to retreat means and, if charged, seek out a criminal defense attorney capable of effectively establishing that your actions were legally reasonable.
The Home Invasion Scenario
Defending yourself against a home invasion is a very common self-protection scenario. Retrieving a lamp from another room and breaking it over the head of someone trying to enter through a window would seem to be a reasonable action. However, doing so could be a crime if the district attorney feels you ignored your duty to retreat.
Duty to Retreat Defined
Duty to retreat essentially states, before engaging in any act of self-defense, you must take the most reasonable steps as possible to escape from the situation. Not doing so opens the door to criminal liability.
In the aforementioned home invasion scenario, questions are going to be raised about other available options beyond attacking the intruder. Breaking open a window takes time as does climbing through the portal. An argument could be made the time invested in retrieving the lamp could have been used to escape the premises. While the prosecuting attorney may try to frame the situation this way, a skilled criminal defense attorney will raise questions about how reasonable retreating the scenario would be.
Examining Conditions for Reasonable Defensive Actions
Circumstances are going to dictate how reasonable taking action against an intruder is. Even though a clear exit through the front door is available when a break-in occurs, would it be reasonable to run out the front door not knowing if someone with criminal intent waits in the wings? Leaving the premises might be more dangerous than remaining in the house and taking defensive action.
Also, what about the safety of others in the home? Upon exiting the property, would you leave small children alone to face whatever threat the intruder presents? Under numerous criminal law statutes, there are times when it is perfectly legal to defend others to protect and preserve their safety.
Upon demonstrating your actions were reasonable, a criminal defense attorney just might convince the jury you are innocent. Preferably, the attorney will convince the district attorney to outright drop the charges.
To speak with a professional, contact a law firm such as Anggelis & Gordon Attorneys At Law.