When Is Defense of Others a Defense to a Connecticut Crime?

When Is Defense of Others a Defense to a Connecticut Crime?

Self-defense is one of the most well-known defenses to a Connecticut crime. We are accustomed to seeing self-defense in movies and television, as an attacker is fought off in fantastic fashion. In recent years, we have also heard great debate on stand your ground laws in Florida and elsewhere that test both societal and legal notions of self-defense and the justified use of deadly force as defenses to criminal charges.

A less familiar form of force or justification against an aggressor is the defense of another person. For example, you are walking home in Bridgeport when an individual in passing begins to yell and threaten your friend. The confusing encounter becomes frightening when the stranger starts to throw punches or indicates the presence of a weapon.

At what point can you take action to protect your friend from serious injury or even death? How much force can you use in defense of a friend? Can you use deadly force to defend another person? These are some of the important and common questions that arise when the defense of others is a defense to Connecticut crime.

#1: When Can You Take Action to Protect Another Person?

The standard for using self-defense and defense of others is the same. There must be evidence of an imminent threat to your friend’s safety and welfare. There are two elements to imminent threat. Both are necessary for a valid defense to Connecticut crime.

This imminent threat must put your friend in fear of reasonable and immediate harm. The fear must be reasonable, with reasonableness determined by what the average man or woman would feel in the same situation. As well, it must be fear of harm occurring in the very near future. It cannot be fear that harm or violence will occur in the next hour or two days, but in mere seconds. This second aspect of fear brings us to the second requirement of imminent harm.

To establish imminent harm, you must also show that the actor was capable of causing the harm or injury. In the example, if a weapon is referenced or produced that would present clear evidence of the capability to cause injury. Alternatively, when an actor says, “I’ll shoot you with the gun in my house,” immediacy and capability become more difficult to establish.

#2: How Much Force Can You Use in Defense of Another?

When the defense of another is justification for a Connecticut crime, the force used is proportional to the threat posed by the other actor. However, Connecticut’s law on the use of force in defense of another muddies the waters on proportionality. While other states require that the force used is directly proportional to the threat posed, Connecticut has a different standard. The force used must be, “such degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose.”

It has been complicated and difficult for Connecticut courts to determine what qualifies as reasonably necessary, in particular, because the standard is substantially tied to the mindset of the defendant to a Connecticut crime. A Connecticut criminal lawyer is the best source of information and advice on whether your actions were reasonably necessary under the circumstances of your case. The Connecticut statute, found at Section 53a-19 of the Connecticut General Statutes, does specify that deadly force is limited when acting in defense of another person.

#3: Can You Use Deadly Force in Defense of Another Person?

Defense to the Connecticut crime of murder or manslaughter is even more complex. You are dealing with the most serious crimes in the state, the taking of another person’s life, and a more specific standard put in place by the Connecticut legislature.

In Connecticut, the use of deadly force to defend another person is only permitted when the defendant believed the actor was going to kill the other person or inflict great bodily harm. On paper, this standard is clear-cut and straightforward, but in the moment and a Connecticut criminal court, it can become very difficult to know if deadly force was justified and necessary.

Are you facing charges for murder or manslaughter in Connecticut, but believe your actions were justified by protecting another person from imminent harm or injury? You need to speak with an experienced Connecticut criminal lawyer immediately.

#4: Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Case?

Yes, having a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer handle your case is in your best interest. With the advice of your lawyer, you can build a better case, create a more strategic argument, and collect more persuasive evidence for your defense of justification. These benefits lead to a better outcome in your Connecticut criminal case.

Ready to hire a Connecticut criminal lawyer? Contact us at Schwartz Law. Our boutique, criminal defense firm is ready to take your case and build the best possible defense. You can reach our office at (203) 255-9829.


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