Someone who is charged with assault, battery, or even killing someone in Illinois may have a viable defense of self-defense justifying his actions.
Generally, someone may be justified to use force against another person to the extent the force is believed to be reasonably necessary to defend himself from an imminent threat of harm.
The use of force typically requires the person claiming self-defense to prove the following elements:
- Belief that force is necessary. The individual using self-defense must have a reasonable belief that the force is necessary to defend himself. For example, if someone accidentally bumps into you or says some insulting comment in passing, there likely is no reasonable belief that force is necessary to defend yourself.
- Amount of force used is reasonable. Just as you must reasonably believe that force is necessary, the amount of force you use also must be reasonable. This means you can't shoot someone over a shove or take some other over-the-top action that escalates the incident.
- Defense against unlawful force. You can only use self-defense if you are defending yourself against imminent use of unlawful force. So the threat of force must be imminent and pressing, and you must be confronted with force -- not something less like verbal insults.
Even if someone meets these requirements for self-defense, the person can still only claim self-defense if that person is not the aggressor in the incident. In other words, you can't pick a fight and then later claim self-defense for any assault that arises from the fight you started.
Finally, someone can typically only use deadly force in self-defense to counter another person's use of force that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Justifiable reasons for force can include reasons like using self-defense against someone shooting at you or the car in which you are riding.
If you have a question about self-defense in Illinois, contact a criminal defense attorney.