Contact Us 301-705-5137

Explaining Self-Defense as a Legal Defense in Waldorf, MD Criminal Cases

If you have been arrested in Waldorf, Maryland, one potential criminal defense is that you were defending yourself (or defending another). This is the defense of self-defense. Under Maryland criminal laws, a certain amount of physical force is allowed to be used in self-defense or in the defense of others. This is generally called “justifiable use of force.” Self-defense can be used for many crimes, including assault, battery, manslaughter, murder, and more. If you have been arrested and think you were defending yourself (or another), call us here at the Law Office of Robert Castro. Call us at (301) 705-5137. We are experienced and courtroom-proven Maryland criminal defense lawyers located in Waldorf, Maryland. We are available around the clock, 24/7.

There are six key components to any claim of self-defense. These are:

  • Must be the non-aggressor — to succeed in a claim of self-defense, the person claiming self-defense cannot have been the aggressor in the original confrontation
  • Imminent/Immediate danger — for self-defense, the person claiming self-defense must have believed — reasonably believed — that he or she was in imminent/immediate danger of some substantial bodily harm or being killed; immediacy is important because if the danger is not immediate, then there is time to retreat, time to call the police, etc.
  • Reasonableness — as noted, the belief that harm or death was imminent and immediately threatened must have been reasonable; this standard is based on an objective person similar to the one who has been arrested and under similar circumstances; thus, what might be “reasonable” for a small woman might be different from what might be “reasonable” for a large muscular man
  • Duty to retreat/avoid — further, the claim of self-defense is available only if the accused took steps to retreat or avoid the confrontation (if the circumstances allowed for retreat/avoidance); Maryland is a State that imposes a duty to retreat before justifiable force can be used
  • Proportionality — to succeed in a claim of self-defense, the justifiable force used must be reasonable and proportional to the force being used by the attacker; usually, this means the same level/type of force; that is, fist vs. fist, knife vs. knife, etc.; if you get shoved and pull a gun, that is not proportional
  • Force must cease when danger is over — finally, a person claiming self-defense can only have used force up to the point where the danger stopped; one gunshot might be self-defense, but 12 shots are probably not

Defense of Others

Generally, the same rules apply if you are defending someone who is being attacked. You do not need to know the person. If you see someone being attacked in Maryland, you can defend them. The same rules apply. You must have a reasonable belief that death or harm is coming immediately to that person. You must use no more force than necessary, your use of force must be proportional, and your use of force must stop when the danger is passed.

How does the criminal defense work?

Since self-defense is legally considered an “affirmative defense,” this means that the accused admits that force was used. In other words, you cannot say both, “I didn’t know hit him,” and also say, “I hit him in self-defense.”

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.