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What Missouri residents should know about self-defense claims

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Criminal Defense

There are different defense strategies that people can employ when they are defending against criminal charges. The kinds of strategies that will work best for each individual largely depends on the situation that led to their prosecution. Those accused of a violent offense in Missouri, such as assault or homicide, sometimes try to defend themselves by establishing that they acted to protect themselves, for example.

Raising a claim of self-defense can serve as an affirmative defense for those facing criminal charges. Instead of trying to undermine the state’s evidence by presenting an alibi or alternate suspect, the defendant admits that they engaged in certain behavior but uses the law to validate their claims that their actions were not technically illegal. Those aspiring to pursue an affirmative defense in court based on claims that they acted in self-defense can benefit from a detailed understanding of Missouri law.

There is no duty to retreat in many cases

In some states, the law requires that people attempt to flee before physically protecting themselves. However, Missouri does not impose a duty to retreat in someone’s home or in other places where an individual has a lawful right to be. Therefore, someone generally does not need to look for an escape route before using physical force to defend themselves in Missouri. Understanding that may help someone realize that they may have grounds to claim that they acted in self-defense.

Self-defense applies to others and property too

It is common for people to have a very restrictive view of self-defense. They might assume that it is only lawful to use physical force when someone wants to protect themselves from an immediate physical threat. Acting to neutralize a threat against oneself is a common form of self-defense. But it is also often possible to legally defend an action taken to protect someone else. Individuals can act to defend family members or even total strangers when they believe they have witnessed a crime or attack in progress. Finally, it is lawful to use physical force to defend one’s property in many cases, such as when there is an attempt at a robbery in a public location or a burglary in someone’s home.

Evaluating one’s situation to see if a self-defense claim is possible is an important step for those who are hoping to defend against violent criminal charges in Missouri.