Immediate ThreatThere must be an immediate threat in order to claim self-defense. This means the threat is right in front of you and is more than likely going to affect you soon. This is important because self-defense no longer applies if the situation ends or the aggressor leaves.
Reasonable Fear of HarmYou must also have a reasonable fear of harm to exercise your rights to home defense. This means that a reasonable person should be able determine that you were more than likely going to be harmed. This is in place to ensure that irrational responses like shooting a delivery person cannot be counted as self-defense.
Responding ProportionallyIf you do take action, then you are allowed only to use the level of force that is being employed against you. This means you cannot use lethal force against someone who did nothing but reach for your body. Responding proportionally is difficult to judge in the heat of the moment. If you face criminal charges, a Keyser defense attorney in Minnesota recommends discussing your options with a lawyer.
Your Duty to Retreat in Some StatesSome states make it your duty to try to retreat from any situation before violence occurs. You cannot claim any self-defense in these jurisdictions unless you can show that you tried to retreat and avoid conflict first. If home defense is important to you, then check if you have a duty to retreat in your area.
Trying To Standing Your GroundSome states have stand your ground laws that negate the duty to retreat. This means you can act in self-defense without trying to avoid the conflict first. Proportional response still applies and lethal force is not part of stand your ground in some states.
The Castle DoctrineThe final right is called the Castle Doctrine. This allows you to use lethal force if someone has illegally entered your home. The exact situation and laws in your state will dictate the circumstances under which you can use the Castle Doctrine to explain your self-defense.
It is important to act with care when faced with a home defense situation. Know the law and try to contact the authorities immediately if you feel threatened in or around your home.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She enjoys writing about home, family, business and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys spending time with her family and reading a good book when she isn't writing.