Many people trained in self-defense may go the rest of their lives without ever needing to use their training, but there is no way to know if that will be your experience. If you do have to defend yourself, it’s important to know when self defense is justified. Understanding when self defense is legal is an extension of protecting you and your loved ones that goes beyond the streets and into the courtroom, where you may need to defend your actions in civil or criminal proceedings. Let’s take a look at when it’s time to take action.
This is Not Legal Advice
Understand that there is way to cover the legality of every possible situation. We’re going to talk about common provisions of self defense standards, but consult the laws in your area to verify what kinds of self defense are acceptable, and when that self defense is legal where you live. With a self defense system like Krav Maga, the preparation you do to learn the law can make a big difference when it’s time to use it.
What Is The Standard For Self Defense?
When is self defense justified? When you feel there is a credible and immediate physical threat to yourself or others, it is generally legal to act to defend yourself. Your right lasts until the threat has been ended, whether it’s due to incapacitation or retreat of the aggressor. At that point, the situation changes and attacks must cease or you risk crossing the line into becoming the attacker yourself and may be charged as such. Knowing when to cease self defense is as important, legally, as knowing when you can start.
So, what kind of threats are present when self defense is justified? Threats usually fall into two categories: authentic and apparent.
Authentic threats include words and actions that leave no possible doubt that you are being attacked and self defense is needed. These can include assault, charging, brandishing of a weapon, or an individual stating their imminent intent to hurt you or someone else.
Apparent threats are trickier and have a greater chance of being disputed after the fact. These are situations, actions, or words that cause you to feel threatened, but may lack an overt display readily apparent to the casual observer. These can include someone inferring they have a weapon they will use, posturing in an aggressive and hostile manner, or performing another menacing act.
The Credibility of Threats
Remember, self defense is justified when threats are credible, meaning the perception of danger is reasonable to the average person. The assessments of others may factor into your decision, but the final responsibility is yours.
As a cautionary tale, in Michigan, a young man missed his bus to school and knocked on the door of a nearby house to ask directions from the homeowners. The lady of the house, feeling threatened by the boy knocking began to scream. The husband responded, firing a weapon at this young man, who was thankfully not hit. Rather than evaluating the situation himself, he relied on someone else’s panic response. Court proceedings are pending at the time of this writing.
Are You Ready?
The best way to know when self defense is justified is to practice real world defense scenarios. Training your mind as well as your body should always be part of your martial arts career. Contact or visit a Krav Maga Worldwide location or affiliate today for more information on the self defense skills you need.