Is Self Defense a Valid Defense of a Crime?

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “The person that called the police doesn’t want to press charges, can I still be prosecuted?”


A violent incident can happen in a second. When a confrontation occurs, it can result in one or the other party suffering severe injuries or death. Recently, the defendants in several high profile cases have asserted self defense claims in court. Self defense is a defense that asserts that you acted in response to something that could have caused you severe injury or death. Your act therefore was a way to prevent yourself from being killed. If you are accused of a serious crime, it is critical to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.


knife-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Self-defense-lawyer-298x300What are My Rights as a Defendant?


If you are accused or charged with a crime, you need to know that you have some important rights. These rights are granted to everyone under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. There are a number of rights that are included as part of the Fifth Amendment such as the right to due process and the right to refuse to answer questions on the basis of self-incrimination, among others. The law provides that you have the right to obtain an attorney and have the attorney present during questioning. You have the right to a speedy trial. In other words, the prosecutor cannot take too long to complete the case. You also have the right to a trial and to present your defense, including witnesses to defend your case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.


What is an Affirmative Defense?


In a criminal case, it is the burden of the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. North Carolina defines reasonable doubt as “doubt based on reason and common sense, arising out of some or all of the evidence that has been presented, or a lack or insufficiency of evidence.” As a defendant in a criminal case, you do not have to provide any type of defense, do not have to call any witnesses, and do not have to take the stand to testify. However, you can provide an affirmative defense. Self defense is an affirmative defense.


Self Defense


There are two types of self defense in North Carolina including perfect self defense and imperfect self defense. These are legal terms that apply to the use of force in particular situations. North Carolina has a stand your ground law in place that allows the use of force when defending yourself at your home, at your place of work, or in your vehicle. The use of force must be reasonable. When you use self defense as a defense in court you will need to prove your claim. This means that although you are not required to testify, you may need to in order to give the court the details of the situation that caused you to respond with force. As with any affirmative defense, it is your decision how to handle your case. There are some limitations to the use of self defense. Your attorney will provide you with guidance and help you determine how to best defend the charges.


If you are charged with a serious crime it is best to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we have a team of attorneys and support staff ready to assist you with your defense and help you protect your rights. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.





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