Reviewing New Jersey’s self-defense laws
It may be easy for you to dismiss those claiming self-defense as justification for allegedly criminal actions in Paterson until you are placed in a position where defending yourself or others may be necessary. Where you might believe that taking action against another is justified, others may view your conduct as being excessive. What really matters is how the law applies the term, which is exactly the question that many bring to us here at Sciro & Marotta, P.C.
According to Section 2C.3-4 of New Jersey’s Code of Criminal Justice, you are allowed to use force in defending yourself (or others) from another if you reasonably believe it that said person intends to harm you. The law, however, is very clear in defining when it believes such a “reasonable belief” exists. The following elements must be present in a scenario to justify self-defense:
- You encountered an intruder in your own dwelling (or in one in which you were privileged to be)
- The incident occurred suddenly and unexpectedly
- You believed that the intruder intended to inflict harm on you or others within the dwelling
- You demanded that the intruder disarm, surrender or withdraw, yet they refuse to do so. Aside from understanding the scenarios in which self-defense is justified, you should also what may limit your right to use force (even in a scenario similar to that described above). If you provoked an incident which ultimately required you to defend yourself, or you could have avoided using force by retreating, surrendering possession of an item that the one claiming it has a right to, or not completing an action you are not legally required to do, then you cannot claim self-defense.
More information on defending yourself against criminal charges can be found here on our site.