What Are the Self-Defense Laws in New Jersey?

Posted June 23rd, 2023.

Categories: Blog.

When someone attacks you, the first instinct may be to strike back. You can claim that you acted in self-defense, right? Well, not always. It is possible that you will be committing a crime yourself and subjecting yourself to some harsh punishments if you are unfamiliar with how self-defense laws work in this state. A New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help you if you run into any trouble, but here is what you should really know first.

When Can My Actions Be Considered Self-Defense?

Your actions can be considered self-defense if:

  • You reasonably believe that you have to defend yourself or others
  • You did not have an opportunity to remove yourself from the situation

If you believe that you or someone else is under threat, you can react with force. However, under New Jersey state law you also have an obligation to get out of this dangerous situation if you can. This is called a “duty of retreat.” If you can leave without causing others harm, do so. If you are physically restrained or otherwise prevented from exiting the situation, then responding with potentially deadly force is often acceptable.

What is Considered Self-Defense in My Own Home?

You can also claim self-defense when you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your home. You are not required to follow the “duty of retreat” here, but there are some other rules you must follow. You can claim self-defense if:

  • The intruder has threatened deadly force against you or someone else on the property
  • You have warned the intruder to stop and surrender

If you make an attempt to resolve things non-violently and then later need to use force, you can claim self-defense. If you just burst onto the scene firing your handgun wildly, it is harder to convince a jury or prosector that you feared for your life and gave an intruder a chance to surrender.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Am Criminally Charged for Acting in Self-Defense?

We suggest hiring a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with any crime. Even if you are one hundred percent positive that you acted in a manner that can be considered self-defense, you do not want to take any risks. Criminal charges can follow you around for life and the punishments for conviction can be quite harsh.

What Penalties Could I Face If Convicted?

You can have your story about self-defense, but if it is not convincing enough you can end up facing tough penalties, like expensive fines and even prison time.If you were actually acting in self-defense, this outcome does not seem at all fair. Our lawyers can help you fight for a better conclusion to your case.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you have been charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick. We can help you take these charges and convince everyone that you were acting in self-defense. You could face severe punishments if you are convicted of a crime, so do not go it alone.

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