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Self Defense in New York State

When can you legally defend yourself if you are attacked in New York? There’s absolutely no way I’m going to be able to give you a clear and concise answer to this question right now, but what I can do is try to give you an idea of self-defense in New York. First off, laws regarding the doctrine of self-defense we refer to justification. When a person asserts self-defense, he’s essentially saying that he did not commit the act but he was justified in doing so.

In New York, the law of justification is codified in Penal Code Article 35. The key to understanding justification is to recognize that it is all about proportionality and the reasonability of your response to an attack. It has to be proportional to the attack that you were defending yourself from. For example, a person comes up to you and punches you in the face. You may be justified in punching him back to defend yourself. However, in the same situation, you would not be justified in taking out a gun and shooting your attacker. But if your attacker pulled out a knife, you may be justified in shooting them. It all depends.

The attack or threat of an attack must also be imminent. If a local gang member comes to your store and says he wants weekly payments or your legs will get broken, you can’t use justification in that context. You also can’t use justification if you are the initial aggressor. In any event, this is why it’s important to choose the right lawyer to present your side of the case. Contact an experience self-defense lawyer in New York for your questions regarding your specific case.

Kevin T. Conway has over 30 years of experience as a Spring Valley criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. If you need a Rockland County criminal lawyer,contact our Spring Valley office for a free consultation.  


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