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When Is Self-Defense Justified?

Mockaitis Law Group LLC Feb. 3, 2020

You have probably heard people in Oswego cite self-defense as a reason why they acted violently towards another. While such claims may often be met with skepticism, it should be recognized that there may indeed be situations where you feel threatened and the opportunity to peacefully retreat simply is not there. The law, of course, does not expect you to allow yourself to become the victim of a violent act, yet at the same time, it regulates the extent to which you are permitted to defend yourself. If your actions are deemed too harsh, you could end up facing criminal scrutiny.

How are you to know if the extent to which you defended yourself was lawful? The standard is clearly spelled out in Section 720.7-1 of Illinois’ Criminal Offenses Code. Here it states that you are permitted to use force is you believe it necessary to protect yourself from or another from being attacked. The appropriate response is typically viewed as being in kind, meaning the degree to which you are permitted to act is equal to that of the action you fear being taken against you. Thus, if you fear that your attacker means to cause serious injury or even your death, you are justified in using lethal action against them.

What about when someone threatens your home? Again, the law justifies an in-kind response. The standard for using lethal force in self-defense, however, is somewhat more defined. Deadly force is only considered justified if you believe it necessary to stop serious injury or death occurring to you or another person in your dwelling, or if it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.