Person with mask and knife being held to ground by other person

Rules on Self Defense in California

McCready Law Group March 18, 2022

According to a 2021 National Firearms Survey, more than 81.4 million Americans aged 18 and over own firearms. Of these, approximately 31.1% of gun owners have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property. California laws allow you to protect yourself, your property, and others from possible harm using force. However, there are specific rules addressing the use of force—and deadly force—in self-defense or defense of others. A knowledgeable California criminal defense attorney can enlighten you about the state’s rules on self-defense and determine whether your actions were justifiable.

At McCready Law Group, I have devoted my career to offering experienced legal services and reliable representation to clients facing criminal charges for using force to protect themselves. As your legal counsel, I can evaluate and investigate every aspect of your case and enlighten you about when the use of force is permissible. Together, we can work together to establish strong legal self-defense arguments to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome for your unique situation. My firm is proud to represent clients across Long Beach, Cypress Hill, Lakewood, and the rest of California.

What is Self-Defense?

Self-defense involves the use of force, violence, or deadly force, where necessary, to protect yourself or someone else from imminent danger or harm. According to California law, if you reasonably believe that a threat exists—you’re about to be physically harmed or facing possible danger—you may act in self-defense.

Furthermore, you can use self-defense as a valid defense in different criminal cases in California, including:

  • Assault

  • Domestic abuse

  • Assault with a deadly weapon

  • Manslaughter

  • Domestic battery

  • Homicide

A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate your unique circumstances and enlighten you about when self-defense can be used as a legal defense.

When Can It Be Used As A Legal Defense?

In order to successfully argue self-defense in California, the defendant must prove that:

  • They reasonably believed that they or another person was in imminent danger of being harmed, killed, or suffering great bodily injury

  • They reasonably believed that the imminent use of force was necessary to defend against that danger

  • They only used the right amount of force that was reasonably necessary to defend against the harm

  • The other party was the initial aggressor

If you have been arrested or indicted for using force or violence against another person but were only protecting yourself, you need to reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney straight away. Your lawyer can determine whether you have a valid legal defense and establish that you stood your ground or only protected yourself using no more force than was reasonably necessary.

Is There a Duty to Retreat in California?

When facing possible harm or danger, it is human instinct to either retreat or fight back. In California, a person is not required to retreat. Rather, in certain circumstances, you may stand your ground and defend yourself against the assailant.

Stand Your Ground Law

Under California self-defense laws, you have the right to stand your ground and defend yourself or others using force when facing harm or danger.

A defendant in California is entitled to stand their ground and defend themselves using force, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of bodily injury, death, or any other crime has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating. If the assault or other incident occurred on your property, then The Castle Doctrine may apply to your case.

California’s Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine in California is a legal doctrine that gives an individual the right and immunity to use violence or deadly force to defend or protect themselves and their loved ones against an intruder (burglar or break-in) on the defendant’s property or any lawfully occupied place.

Under the Castle Doctrine, you are not required to retreat upon confronting an intruder or burglar in your house. Also, you are allowed to neutralize a forcible break-in using deadly force as self-defense. A skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate the facts surrounding your case and strive to establish that you only acted in self-defense.

Trusted Representation to Protect Your Rights

In the state of California, you are within your rights to act in self-defense if you have a reasonable belief that you or someone else may be in possible harm. However, you may be arrested and charged for your otherwise violent or unlawful actions. If you’re facing criminal allegations for acting in defense of yourself or others, you need to retain an aggressive and highly-skilled criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights.

For more than 14 years, I have been handling criminal cases and defending individuals accused of using force to defend themselves against others. As your legal counsel, I can thoroughly investigate all of the facts of your situation and help you move forward with confidence. Using my comprehensive understanding of California laws addressing self-defense in criminal cases, I can help you navigate the justice system and guide you through the often complex legal process.

Contact my firm—McCready Law Group—today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a trustworthy criminal defense attorney. I can offer you the detailed legal counsel and reliable representation you need in your case. My firm proudly represents clients across Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California.

Proudly serving Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Lakewood, Orange County, CA, and the surrounding areas, including Santa Ana and Fountain Valley. Criminal Defense and White Collar Crime Lawyer in Orange County, Domestic Violence and Manslaughter Lawyer in Orange County.