Criminal Defense: The Self-Defense Argument

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Criminal Defense on Friday, September 7, 2012.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office dropped criminal charges of aggravated assault with a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon against a man who allegedly stabbed another man at a Fourth of July barbeque. The charges were dismissed based on self-defense. The two men, 18 and 20 years old, became embroiled in a fight which led to the younger man stabbing the older. The defendant’s criminal defense attorney, either a private lawyer or the public defender, successfully proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was acting in self-defense.

The State of New Jersey statute for “use of force in self-protection,” 2C:3-4a states:

Subject to the provisions of this section and of section 2C:3-9, the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.

However, the justification of self-defense is unavailable if:

  1. The actor’s belief in the unlawfulness of the force or conduct against which he employs protective force or his belief in the lawfulness of an arrest which he endeavors to effect by force is erroneous; and
  2. His error is due to ignorance or mistake as to the provisions of the code, and other provisions of the criminal law or the law governing the legality of an arrest or search. (N.J.S.A. 2C:3-9)

If you were in a position defending yourself and were mistakenly arrested on assault or weapons charges, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to review your case. It is never too late to retain the defense you deserve!

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