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When may self-defense be a viable criminal defense option?

Sometimes a person harms another person and is charged with a crime, such as assault. However, Colorado, like all other states in the nation, recognizes that there may be times when a person needs to use force to protect themselves from dangers they face, even if that means doing something that is technically illegal. Therefore, some people facing criminal charges may be able to argue that they only acted in self-defense. This post will provide a general overview of self-defense, but it may be necessary to consult with a legal professional to determine if self-defense is an option in your specific case.

To argue self-defense, generally the accused must be able to show that they acted in response to an imminent threat of harm. This means that the accused was placed in immediate fear that they would be hurt or killed. This is a high standard to meet, as offensive words alone do not satisfy this requirement of a self-defense argument. In addition, a person cannot act in self-defense if the threat of harm against them is no longer there. Acts committed after a threat is over may be deemed retaliatory, rather than self-defense.

In addition, to argue self-defense, generally the accused must be able to show that the fear of harm they faced was reasonable. One must ask, would a reasonable person in the same situation believe that they were facing imminent danger of physical harm? Keep in mind that sometimes a self-defense argument can be made in situations where the alleged aggressor did not intend to harm the alleged victim, so long as the perception of harm was reasonable.

So, in short, one might be able to argue they acted in self-defense if they can show their actions were in response to an imminent and reasonable threat of harm. These are very fact-specific situations, so while self-defense may be an option in one person's case, it may not be a viable argument in another person's case. Therefore, those who are accused of a violent crime and are wondering if they can argue they only acted in self-defense will want to seek the help necessary to understand how the law applies to the facts of their case.

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