Charged with a Violent Crime? You May Be Able to Claim Self-Defense
Violent crimes are among the most serious offenses with which you can be charged, and convictions can result in harsh legal consequences. Furthermore, if a conviction for a violent offense appears on your criminal record, it can affect your life for years to come, as people often do not want to work or even associate with a person who has a history of violence towards others. For this reason, if you’re facing allegations of a violent criminal offense, it’s in your best interest to speak to a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can.
In some cases, you may be able to claim self-defense in response to allegations of a violent crime. Under Missouri law, you are allowed to use physical force upon another person to the extent that you reasonably believe such force to be necessary in order to defend yourself from what you reasonably believe to be the use or imminent use of force by another person. Furthermore, self-defense in MO applies to defense of others who are perceived to be in the same danger as you. So, if you witness someone else being harmed, you can step in and use the same force against the aggressor as if you were the one being assaulted.
There are limitations to the self-defense law, however. For example, you cannot claim self-defense if you are the initial aggressor, except in certain limited circumstances. In addition, you cannot use deadly force unless you reasonably believe it is necessary to protect yourself or someone else from a fatal attack or forcible felony.
When Does Self-Defense Apply?
Self-defense is a complicated defense to raise because it often turns on the reasonableness of the defendant’s belief that force was necessary, and the reasonableness of the level of force used. For this reason, anyone claiming self-defense is well-advised to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent them, as raising the defense without a lawyer is unlikely to be successful. Some of the specific scenarios in which self-defense may apply include:
- Allegations of domestic violence
- Bar fights started by another patron
- Attempted theft of your vehicle by violent threats
- Criminal charges related to schoolyard bullying
- Someone trying to enter your home unlawfully
In some cases, an attorney may be able to convince a prosecutor that you were acting in self-defense, which often results in the criminal case against you being dropped entirely. In other cases, the prosecutor may not accept your self-defense argument, leaving the matter in the hands of a judge or jury, and you need an aggressive advocate in court.
Call Bruntrager & Billings Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of a violent crime, you need to speak to an experienced defense attorney right away. The St. Louis defense lawyers of Bruntrager & Billings are skilled negotiators and tenacious litigators who are committed to obtaining the best result for each client we represent. To schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team, call our office today at 314-646-0066 or send us an email through our online contact form.