Self-Defense Laws in California

Individuals in California have the right to defend themselves when confronted with the threat of imminent harm. That is why our skilled lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP are committed to representing clients accused of violent crimes after they were forced to protect themselves. We know that proving a client acted in self-defense can be complicated, which is why we explain what you need to know about self-defense laws in California.

What Is Considered Self-Defense?

When a person is on their own property, California recognizes a Castle Doctrine that allows them to use deadly force to protect their property without the legal duty to retreat. However, castle doctrine only applies when an individual is on your property. When it comes to self-defense off your property, the right to use force in self-defense stops "when the attacker withdraws or no longer appears capable of inflicting any injury."

In California, you can act in self-defense if you have a reasonable belief that you are in danger and about to be physically harmed. Self-defense may be appropriate if you are in imminent danger of the following:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Violent Assault
  • Robbery

It is important to note that a person does not have the right to self-defense if they provoke a fight or quarrel with the intent to create an excuse to use force. If a person is involved in mutual combat or starts a fight, they have a right to self-defense under the following conditions:

  • The person tried to stop fighting in good faith
  • The person indicated they wanted to stop fighting and that they had stopped fighting
  • The person gave the opponent a chance to stop fighting

To establish that an individual acted in self-defense, California law requires the following be proved:

  • The person had a reasonable belief they were in imminent danger of suffering harm or death
  • The person had a reasonable belief that using force was necessary to prevent such harm
  • The person only used an amount of force that was necessary to stop the threat

Have you or someone you know been accused of a violent crime after acting in self-defense? If so, please call Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP at (800) 462-7160 to request a free case consultation to discuss your legal options.