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What Are the Self-Defense Laws in New York?

When you are involved in a fight or some kind of altercation, you can be charged with assault and other criminal charges. Sometimes you do not have a choice in the matter though, and you must defend yourself. You can claim self-defense in some situations, but it can be hard to build a winning defensive strategy on your own. A Clarkstown criminal defense attorney from our firm can help you tell your side of the story.

What Can Be Considered Self-Defense in NY?

The key to a credible claim of self-defense in New York is the word “reasonable.” Variations of this word are used throughout state laws and statutes. What this means is that you can claim self-defense if you thought that you or someone else was in danger and that this was a reasonable thought to have. Other people would have come to the same conclusion if they had found themselves in your situation.

This mostly applies to situations where you used force to harm someone else while you defended yourself or others. If you used deadly force, duty to retreat laws can complicate matters.

What is a “Duty to Retreat”?

New York is a state that has “duty to retreat” laws. What this means is that you are expected to try and remove yourself from a dangerous situation. If you do not attempt to escape the situation and end up using deadly force, it is possible that you could be charged with a crime.

However, if you are trapped and have no way of preventing an altercation, you may need to fight back. In these cases, you can claim self-defense because you did what you could to prevent a scenario where you had to use force.

Can I Claim Self-Defense If Attacked in My Home?

It is important to remember that a duty to retreat does not apply in your home. So you are allowed to defend yourself and your home with force if:

  • You are not the initial aggressor
  • You reasonably believe that an attacker is attempting to commit rape, robbery, or kidnapping
  • An intruder is trying to commit arson

As long as you can show that you only acted and used force once you were clearly in danger, you should be able to credibly claim self-defense.

Do I Need a Defense Attorney?

Claiming self-defense is one thing, but proving that you had no other option is difficult. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, but you should still do everything that you can to form the best possible defense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer from our firm can help you do that.

Contact Our Law Firm

If you have been charged with a crime and you believe that you were acting in self-defense, our legal team may be able to help. Contact The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway and schedule a consultation today. We will help you defend yourself from these charges.

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