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When can you claim self-defense when facing charges in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2021 | criminal defense

There are many ways for people to fight criminal charges. Sometimes, a defendant can challenge the evidence that prosecutors have against them or clearly show the court that they did not play a role in the alleged criminal activity.

Other times, prosecutors may be right about what someone did, but they are wrong in their claim that it constitutes a crime. You could potentially face a number of different criminal charges, ranging from assault to murder despite the fact that your actions were not illegal.

Self-defense is legal under Tennessee law. When can claiming self-defense help you with your pending charges?

You must have had a reasonable fear for your own safety

Tennessee allows people to defend themselves even without retreating. Provided that you were in a place you had the legal authority to be and were not breaking the law, you can defend yourself with physical force or even lethal force if you believe that someone else poses a threat of bodily harm or death to you.

However, the state does limit claims to those facing real danger or who believe they are. If it is a belief that justifies their actions of self-defense, then their fear should be from reasonable grounds. Being afraid of someone who just broke in to your house is reasonable. Having a terrified reaction to someone talking to you just because of their race is not.

When can’t you claim self-defense?

There are limitations on self-defense rights when you break the law or trespass on someone’s property. Additionally, you can’t claim self-defense if you lash out at someone after consenting to an act of violence or if you initiated the conflict. However, if you start an altercation and the other person escalates the violence or you try to walk away but they pursue you, you then have the right to defend yourself in most cases.

Finally, you cannot claim self-defense if you become violent with a police officer or other authority figure attempting to lawfully arrest you. The self-defense strategy can be a viable option for those facing criminal charges in Tennessee, but it requires a careful review of the situation and the evidence first. An experienced attorney can help.