Facing a murder or homicide charge is the most serious thing you can encounter in the legal system. For those who find themselves being charged after acting in self-defense, what are the options?  

Minnesota doesn’t recognize the Stand Your Ground laws that some states have, which allow you to use lethal force to defend yourself and your property without attempting to back down or flee the situation first. Absent this law, there are still provisions that protect you if you’ve used lethal force in self-defense, which in turn may allow you to defend yourself against your charges.

The circumstances where self-defense acts are limited in Minnesota. They include:

·         Use of reasonable force – cases where this is applicable may include scenarios like restraining a person who presents a threat to others or themselves, particularly in cases where they are mentally ill or disabled; addressing trespassing or intervention with private property; restraining a person posing a threat who is a passenger of any kind who is behaving unlawfully, and preventing an incarcerated person from escaping who has been convicted of a crime. Parents, teachers, and guardians may also use reasonable force to restrain and exert authority over a child or a student.

·         Justifiable use of self-defense – the criteria for using this defense requires several factors to be provably true. These include believing you’re in significant danger of bodily harm, that this belief is considered by the court to be reasonable, you absolutely could not escape or avoid the threat within reason, and you did not act aggressively independent of the self-defense.

·         Self-defense limitations – since Stand Your Ground laws are not recognized in Minnesota, you have a “duty to retreat,” which means you’re responsible for attempting to leave the situation before escalating to use of force if at all reasonably possible and it doesn’t put you in more danger. Away from your own home or property, deadly force is not an acceptable form of defense unless you can prove you were in immediate danger of “great bodily harm.”

Work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help defend yourself if you’re being charged for the use of deadly force while defending yourself. You do have options.