Claiming to have acted in self-defense could theoretically absolve someone of criminal culpability for an incident that results in injury to another person.
Illinois state law permits people to act in self-defense when they believe that they are experiencing an immediate, specific level of personal risk. It is theoretically even legal to use lethal force in certain scenarios, provided that someone felt it was necessary to protect themselves or other people from the risk of death. The details of the situation will have a profound impact on the viability of a self-defense claim in an Illinois homicide case.
Someone’s actions prior to and during the altercation can have a major impact on their defense strategy. They may, for example, need to question whether there is there a duty to retreat before someone uses force during a confrontation.
Location and circumstances determine the rules that apply
If someone is in a public place that they could potentially leave, then they may want to do so during a threatening encounter with another person. If an incident takes place in someone’s home, there is no assumption that an individual can or even should try to flee before defending themselves.
A simple trespassing incident would not justify the use of lethal force on the part of the homeowner. However, a violent and threatening entry into the house and the use of verbal threats or physical intimidation during the unlawful entry could help someone justify their decision to use physical force to defend their property and their family.
The prior relationship they had with the other party and what happened in the moments leading up to the altercation could all play a role in whether or not the Illinois criminal courts will accept someone’s claims that they acted in self-defense.
The evidence determines the best defense strategy
In cases where there is a strong amount of evidence tying someone to an incident, an affirmative defense, like claims of acting in self-defense, may be the best option for avoiding a criminal conviction. However, no one strategy works in every case.
To determine the best path forward, an accused individual typically needs to work with their attorney to carefully assess the evidence that the state is presenting before committing to a specific approach. Learning more about the unique laws that apply to homicide and self-defense claims in Illinois can help those who are hoping to fight murder accusations.