We live in a highly unpredictable society. One moment you are doing your weekly grocery shopping, the next you are figuring out how to walk out of a mass-shooting scene alive. Fortunately, there are laws in place to deter and/or punish violent crimes.
Per New Jersey laws, you may exercise force to protect yourself or someone else from harm as long as the force in question is reasonable or proportionate. This is known as self-defense. Thus, if you are charged with harming or even killing someone, you may argue that you acted in self-defense.
However, you cannot simply argue that hurt or took someone’s life in self-defense. Your argument must satisfy certain elements. One of these is the existence of imminent danger.
How is imminent danger established when arguing self-defense?
The law permits you to claim self-defense if you are charged with certain violent crimes. However, this argument will only hold if you reasonably believed that you or someone else faced imminent danger. This means that the threat in question was immediate or you were present when it happened. Danger cannot be imminent if it happened in the past or if you suspect that it will happen in the future.
Here is an illustration: you are walking home when you witness an attempted carjacking. On a closer look, you realize that one of the carjackers has a weapon, and they are threatening to shoot the victim.
This amounts to imminent danger, and if you take out your weapon and shoot the carjackers, you may argue that you did so to protect the carjacking victim from potential harm.
Protecting your rights
If you or someone else is in danger, the law allows you to use reasonable force to protect yourself or the victim in question. If this results in a criminal charge, you may argue that you acted in self-defense.