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When can a person use self-defense in Colorado?

Sometimes, a person finds themselves facing the threat of imminent injury or death at the hands of another person. When this happens, a person may have no choice but to use physical force to fight back. For this reason, Colorado law recognizes that self-defense can be used in certain circumstances.

In general, a person in Colorado is justified in using physical force against another individual if they reasonably believe that the other person is threatening to use or is using unlawful physical force against them. However, a person can only use the degree of force that is necessary to defend themselves or someone else.

Deadly physical force can only be used if a person has a reasonable belief that a lesser degree of force would be insufficient and they have reasonable grounds to feel that either: they or someone else is in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm; the assailant is using physical force against a homeowner or business owner while committing burglary; or the assailant is in the act of kidnapping, robbery or sexual assault.

There are situations in which physical force cannot be used under the guise of self-defense. This is if someone provoked the assailant, someone is the initial aggressor (unless they withdraw from the situation and sufficiently state so to the other person, but the other person continues to attack them), or if the two parties are in unlawful mutual combat.

Self-defense can be a strong argument against certain criminal charges, but it is also complicated. This post only scratches the surface of self-defense in Colorado and does not constitute legal advice. Those who believe that self-defense may be an option in their defense strategy will want to seek the assistance of an attorney who practices criminal defense law to better understand this issue.

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