When is self-defense allowed in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

People in Virginia know that it is generally illegal to assault others. People are not suppose to punch people, kick people or hit them with other objects. They are also not suppose to use weapons such as guns or knives to harm others or threaten to harm them. People who do this could be charged with assault and face serious consequences depending on the severity of the injuries they cause and the manner in which they assaulted the other person.

There could be defenses to assaults though and in certain situations the assault could be justified or legal. One of these situations is if people are acting in self-defense. People cannot just be in a mutual fight to use self-defense though. Certain requirements must be met.

Requirements for legal self-defense

In order to legally use self-defense, people must have an imminent fear of bodily harm or death from an overt act from another person. In these situations, they can use a proportional amount of force to protect themselves. So, if there is no reasonable threat of death, they cannot use enough force to kill the other person. In Virginia people do not have to retreat before using self-defense in most situations either.

There are also two different categories of self-defense. One is justifiable self-defense, which occurs when people did not have anything to do with the initial assault. An example would be a mugging when the people did not do anything to provoke the aggressor. The other is excusable self-defense. This can be used when people were aggressors at the beginning or provoked the fight in some way, but then made it clear they no longer wanted to fight and attempted to retreat before using self-defense.

Most people in Virginia hope to never be in a position where they need to use physical force against someone else. However, if they are using valid self-defense, they either will not be charged with a crime or have a valid defense if they are in fact charged with assault. Experienced attorneys understand these laws and may be able to help protect one’s rights.