People can wind up charged with violent crimes when they had no intention of causing harm to anyone else. It is unfortunately common for one individual to end up in a situation where they must use physical force, possibly even deadly force, to protect themselves, their property or other people.

Such actions typically fall under the umbrella of self-defense. Those facing criminal charges or who are under investigation for certain Behavior may claim self-defense as an affirmative defense. In other words, they acknowledge that mean did what the police or prosecutors claim they did, but they maintain that they did so out of a desire to protect themselves or someone else.

North Carolina limits self-defense claims

When someone threatens you or another individual with violence, you have the theoretical legal right to use force to protect yourself or that other person. However, people should typically only use the amount of force that is necessary to prevent injury or harm to themselves or others.

If you only worried about bodily injury, like getting kicked or slapped in the face, you typically do not have the right to use lethal force. The use of deadly force only applies to situations that involve the perceived threat of death or great bodily harm.

In a situation where you believe one person may cause great bodily harm or death to someone else or yourself, you may have the right to use physical force, possible up to lethal force if necessary, to defend yourself and that other person. North Carolina is among a handful of states where people do not have a duty to retreat before using force in such a situation.

It’s important to understand that there are other limitations to this right. For example, if the individual you use force against is a member of law enforcement or if you are the one who initiated physical violence, using lethal force or even claiming self-defense against assault charges may not be justified in the eyes of the courts.

If you find yourself facing assault or other violent criminal charges in what you believe with a clear-cut case of self-defense, getting legal help sooner rather than later will likely be in your best interest.