Self-defense is a legal defense against violent crimes. It justifies the defendant's use of force to protect themself from an imminent threat of harm or death. The requirements and restrictions for self-defense in Kansas City, MO, differ from other cities and states. That's why having an experienced defense attorney from a local law firm is crucial for the defendant to properly navigate the law and receive optimal legal support and guidance for their case.
Below are some common concepts to help better understand self-defense in Kansas City, MO.
Self-defense typically requires the defendant to fear immediate harm, either verbal or physical. However, mere offensive words do not suffice to justify this case. Once the threat subsides, self-defense cannot be claimed.
Reasonable Fear of Harm
The defendant's fear of harm must be reasonable. The jury evaluates if an ordinary and rational person in the same situation would have also perceived an imminent threat of harm. If not, self-defense does not apply, though the defendant might be eligible for imperfect self-defense.
The force used by the defendant must not be excessive but proportionate to the threat. For instance, shooting at someone who raises their hand to slap would be considered an unreasonable response. Generally, lethal force is justified only when the defendant fears for their life.
Duty to Retreat
A defendant must attempt to escape from harm before resorting to force. The duty to retreat implies that the defendant must demonstrate that using force was their only option.
The castle doctrine eliminates the duty to retreat when facing an intruder at home. This doctrine grants a defendant the right to use potentially lethal force in such situations without the obligation to escape.
Stand Your Ground
The “stand your ground” law completely abolishes the duty to retreat requirement. This law allows the defendant to “stand their ground” and employ force if they face threats or assaults, even in public places, without the obligation to retreat.
Burden of Proof for Kansas City Self-Defense Claim
Self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning the defendant admits to the violent act but asserts a legal justification. In criminal cases in Kansas City, MO, the prosecution must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if the defendant wishes to argue self-defense, they must prove it by a “preponderance of the evidence”—a higher likelihood of truth. Alternatively, there are instances when the defendant must raise self-defense, shifting the burden back to the prosecution.
For a comprehensive explanation of self-defense in Kansas City, MO, and its application in your case, contact the Law Office of Tyler Brown. Dial 816-875-4649 today to schedule a free consultation with our criminal defense lawyer.