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What if I acted in self-defense?

Violent offenses can be some of the most serious crimes, and if the offense is a felony, a conviction can mean lifelong consequences in addition to any jail time. Those who have been convicted of a felony often have a harder time finding employment, and in some industries — such as any that involve working with children, the elderly or the disabled — it can immediately disqualify you from the applicant pool. It's also important to remember that with California's three-strikes law, repeat felony convictions can have serious repercussions.

Just as with any other criminal charges, those involving violent crimes are still dependent on the evidence and circumstances surrounding the case including but not limited to the recovery of the weapon, any eye-witness testimony, video evidence and the events leading up to the incident. Even in cases that appear to be very cut and dried, defendants still have options.

One such option may be claiming self-defense. If the act of violence was committed in response to an imminent threat where the defendant had reasonable belief that he or she was going to be harmed, a self-defense argument may be plausible. It's important to remember, however, that a self-defense claim is usually only appropriate for those cases where the act of self-defense was in proportion to the perceived threat of harm.

If you feel that you acted in self-defense when committing an act of violence, it's important to talk with a criminal defense attorney about your options. Even if all of the above requirements are not necessarily met, it may be possible to use an imperfect self-defense argument or go with another defense option.

Source: FindLaw, "Self-Defense Overview," accessed June 12, 2015

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