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What Does It Take to Claim Self-Defense

Self-defense is a basic human right. If you are being attacked, or fear for your life, you have the right to use force, even deadly force, to protect yourself. Unfortunately, in some cases, assault charges are brought against the person who was only trying to protect themselves, their property, or another human being. Self-defense is a legal defense commonly asserted by those charged with crimes of violence, such as battery, assault with a deadly weapon, or murder. When a defendant asserts self-defense in a criminal case, the defendant admits that he or she did in fact use force, but claims that their use of force was justified by the other person’s threatening or violent actions.

When Can I Use Self-Defense?

Georgia law allows you to use self-defense in very few circumstances:

  1. You are justified to use self-defense when you reasonably believe that using force is necessary to defend yourself from being physically attacked, or to defend a third person from being physically attacked.
  2. You are justified to use deadly force, that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm, only if you reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to yourself or to a third person.
  3. You are justified to use deadly force to prevent another person from committing a violent felony.

“Stand Your Ground” Law:

Under Georgia’s “stand your ground” law, you have the right to use deadly force against an attacker, even if there is an opportunity to safely retreat, and if you reasonably believe you are in fear of death or grave bodily harm when using such force. However, it does not mean you’re justified in pursuing someone who’s no longer a threat. Additionally, the level of force used to defend yourself should be roughly equivalent to the amount of force threatened against you.

When You Are Not Allowed to Use Self-Defense:

Under Georgia law, you are not justified in using self-defense, if:

  • You were the initial aggressor who provoked another person to attack you as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon that person.
  • You were committing a felony or fleeing after committing a felony.
  • You were engaged in a combat by agreement, and the other person withdraws from the encounter or communicates his/her intent to withdraw, and you still continued or threatened to continue the use of unlawful force.

Contact an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Self-defense can be one of the most effective defenses in any assault or violent crime case. However, you could potentially face criminal investigations or sanctions regarding your use of self-defense. If you or a loved one have used force in self-defense, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can fight to protect your rights and your future.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation in Suwanee, Johns Creek, Cumming, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, Dawsonville, Dahlonega, Lumpkin County, or Dawson County, please call our office today at

(678) 257-4507 You may also schedule a consultation online.