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How does Virginia define self-defense?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you kill or injure another person in the state of Virginia, the police might not charge you with a crime if you can prove that you acted in self-defense. However, this defense might not apply in every situation. It’s also important to note that Virginia has two separate self-defense definitions, which could be a major factor in your court case.

What qualifies as self-defense?

In criminal defense terms, Virginia has two definitions of self-defense: justified self-defense and excusable self-defense. You might claim justified self-defense if the other person’s attack was completely unprovoked. While some states require people to retreat before they can claim self-defense, Virginia is a “stand your ground” state, meaning that you don’t have to retreat first.

If you provoked the assailant in some way, you might still qualify for excusable self-defense. This means that you partially provoked the attack but were still justified in injuring or killing the individual. Even if you insulted this person, they’re still responsible for their actions. However, this defense might not apply if you assaulted the person first or invaded their property.

Virginia also has a “castle doctrine,” meaning that you can injure or kill someone who invaded your house if you believe that they posed a threat. This could include robbers, kidnappers and other home invaders. You might not be able to claim self-defense if you and your criminal defense attorney can’t prove that the individual posed a threat to you or your family members. They might have trespassed on your property, but that doesn’t mean that deadly force is always authorized.

Can you claim self-defense?

You might want to talk to an attorney about using the self-defense argument. In some cases, that argument might not be viable. However, you might have a case if you can prove that the individual posed a genuine threat to your well-being.

This argument can be challenging if the prosecution claims that you provoked or attacked the other party first. Ultimately, you’ll have to prove that the other person’s reaction was wildly out of bounds. You might also have to prove that you sought a non-violent resolution first if you partially caused the attack.


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