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California Self-Defense Laws: Is It Against the Law to Assault a Robber?

A person sitting on the floor with one hand over their face and the other hand signaling someone to stop.

Being a robbery victim is a nightmare that no one ever wants to experience. In such a situation, the first natural reaction is to defend oneself and prevent the attacker from causing harm. But do you know the laws on self-defense? If not, you could end up on the wrong side of the law. In California, the laws governing self-defense are complex, and understanding them is an essential part of protecting yourself and staying safe.

This blog post aims to explore California's self-defense laws and answer the question of whether it is against the law to assault a robber.

How Do California’s Self-Defense Laws Work?

Under California law, individuals have the right to protect themselves from harm. However, this right is limited. A person may use force or even deadly force in self-defense, but only under certain circumstances. California Penal Code Section 197 stipulates that a person may use force against another if he or she reasonably believes that the force is necessary to defend themselves from the imminent threat of physical harm.

Self-defense is only lawful if the threat is immediate. If the attacker poses a threat but does not pose a danger of immediate harm, self-defense will not hold up in court. As such, it is important to note that the threat must be immediate, and the defender must face harm in that moment to claim self-defense under the law.

How Does Proportional Force Play a Role in Self-Defense?

California law also dictates that the amount of force used must be proportional to the threat being presented. This means that using deadly force, such as a firearm, against a person who poses a non-lethal threat could be considered excessive force. Excessive force allegations could result in criminal charges against the robbery victim. In addition, the robbery victim could be held liable in civil court as well.

It is also important to note that if an individual initiates a confrontation with a potential attacker, that person cannot claim self-defense. This is because self-defense cannot be used to defend against a threat that you created. Self-defense in California is only allowed when defending against attacks that are unprovoked.

If you believe that you have been wrongly charged with excessive force for defending yourself against a robber or attacker, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

For more information about California’s self-defense laws, or to speak with our dedicated criminal defense lawyers in Fresno, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or reach out to us online today to schedule a free consultation.

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