People can find themselves facing murder or assault charges over actions they take while they feel fear for their health or safety. Someone may take steps in the heat of the moment when experiencing fear that they would never take otherwise.

Claiming self-defense is a common legal strategy for those facing criminal charges related to the death of someone else. An individual may claim that they feared for their safety, believed others were in imminent danger or suspected that the other person would commit a felony offense as justification for the use of physical force, including lethal force, to address that perceived threat.

However, even in cases that involve an invasion of your home, Minnesota laws about self-defense include an obligation to retreat after subduing the threat. That means that the use of excessive force could prevent you from claiming self-defense in court.

When do you have a duty to retreat?

You have the right to defend yourself, other people and your property with physical force for as long as it takes to eliminate the threat. An injury or restraint that prevents any further threat on the part of an assailant necessitates retreat on the part of someone engaging in self-defense.

If you fire a single shot at someone who enters your home without permission and threatens you, you have a duty to contact law enforcement and move away if the shot you fired leaves that person unable to move or continues to pose a threat. Continuing to act in a violent manner against someone you have already restrained or injured could prevent you from successfully claiming self-defense in a criminal trial in the future.