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How Do You Claim Self Defense at Trial?

One of the most argued areas of criminal law is that of self-defense. A variety of different situations can lead to a claim of self-defense when an altercation of some kind occurs. If you are facing a criminal trial and are claiming self-defense, it is important to understand how it actually works at a trial. If you do not properly present evidence of self-defense, then you will not be able to have a jury be instructed on the law of self-defense and will basically be unable to make the claim at all. In order for a self-defense claim to be properly made at trial, some evidence has to be introduced which shows that you (the defendant) were defending yourself from an attack of some kind. Most often, the way a self-defense claim gets made in a trial is through the defendant’s testimony. Often times, the introduction of self-defense evidence will be met with strong opposition from the side of the prosecutor. This is not surprising, as once a self-defense claim has been made, then the prosecutor has to additionally prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not acting in legal self-defense in order to secure a conviction. The parameters of what is considered legal self-defense in North Carolina can be found in the criminal jury instructions, and any questions should be directed at an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Jury Instructions on Self Defense in North Carolina

At the end of a jury trial, after the closing statements but before deliberations, the presiding judge will instruct the jury on the law and their obligations as jurors. The instructions that are given to the jury are directly read from the jury instructions that apply to that particular case. In North Carolina, the state pattern jury instruction for self-defense begins at NC 308.40. This instruction states that even if the defendant assaulted the victim, the assault would be justified if at the time; 1) the defendant reasonably believed that such action was necessary to protect from unwanted contact, and 2) the circumstances created this belief in the defendant’s mind. The instruction further states that the amount of force used in self-defense cannot be excessive, and that the defendant does not have a duty to retreat if they are in a lawful place. If the jury finds that the defendant acted in legal self-defense according to the pattern jury instructions, then the defendant can be found not guilty of the crime charged. If you are facing a criminal charge for an assaultive crime, but were acting in self-defense, then call us at Snow Legal today so we can help.

Call Today for a Free Consultation with Snow Legal

If you are facing state or federal criminal charges, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorneys at Snow Legal are proud to offer a free initial consultation to anyone facing the potential of criminal charges. Let our experience help guide you towards taking the strongest possible approach in your defense. Call us today at (704) 358-0026 or contact us online.