It is not uncommon for many to think of “self-defense” when hearing of Georgia defenses in criminal cases. To be sure, the American news media across the country has put out confusing information about this particular legal defense, making many think that it is easy to use self-defense in a criminal case to justify actions and end up without a conviction. Below is a basic explanation of both the definition of the legal “self-defense” theory as well as when it can apply in a Georgia criminal case.
Georgia Self-Defense & Use of Deadly Force
Georgia’s state statute, O.C.G.A. 16-3-21, defines self-defense as a person being justified in using or threatening force against another when he or she reasonably believes that force or threat of force is necessary to defend him or herself, or a third person, against another’s imminent use of unlawful force. If the force used in self-defense is intended or likely to cause great bodily harm or death, it is only legally justified if he or she reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm to him or herself or another – or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
While Georgia’s law specifically outlines when self-defense is legally acceptable and when it is not, the language in the statute can be confusing. Simply put, there are two elements that must exist in order for deadly force to be allowed under the law. First, the danger to the person or third party must be imminent. Second, the person must reasonably believe that the use of deadly force in self-defense is necessary to prevent great bodily injury or death to him or her or another.
When Deadly Force Is Not Justified in Carrollton
Additionally, it must be noted that there are scenarios under Georgia law where the use of deadly force in self-defense is not legally justified. Some scenarios under which self-defense will not be a legal justification in Carrollton include:
- If the person first provokes the use of deadly force against him or her with the intent to use deadly force in return upon the assailant;
- If the person is committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing after committing or attempting to commit a felony;
- If the alleged victim was the aggressor or was engaged in combat by agreement – unless he or she communicates withdrawal or intention to withdraw and yet continues to use unlawful force.
Keep in mind that self-defense is an affirmative defense in a criminal case under the law in Georgia and the rest of the country. In other words, if this defense is proven by the defendant, his or her legal consequences for the conduct will be lessened or defeated together.
Criminal Help in Carrollton
There are several affirmative defenses available to an accused facing a Carrollton criminal lawsuit aside from self-defense. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Georgia, contact the skilled Carrollton criminal defense attorneys at Moffitt Law, LLC to learn about your rights under applicable state law.
Tyler Moffitt is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices Carrollton, LaGrange, and Columbus, GA. He graduated from John Marshall Law School, and has been practicing for several years now. Tyler Moffitt takes great honor in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.