When is force justified?

Defending Yourself

Many people in Monroe may think it to be relatively easy to avoid situations that may escalate into violence. However, that line of thinking does not account for those times when potentially violent encounters may find you.

In a situation where you (or a family member, friend or coworker) feel threatened, it is not expected that you will not attempt to defend yourself. The question is how far the law allows you to go in doing so.

The Castle Doctrine

Many states have adopted a philosophy of “Stand Your Ground” when it comes to threatening situations. This recognizes that you do not have the duty to retreat in certain scenarios. However, there are restrictions on when this actually applies. North Carolina follows a stricter form of this philosophy known as “the Castle Doctrine.” This principle subscribes to the proverbial belief that your home is your castle, and thus you can defend it (and those in it). Local state laws even go further in extending this right to when a person tries to forcefully and unlawfully enter into your vehicle or your place of business.

When you are the initial aggressor

Typically, self-defense laws only apply to those situations where when threatens you with violence without any provocation on your part. State laws adhere to this assumption as well, yet there are some exceptions. Per Section 14-51.4 of North Carolina’s General Statutes, the state considers defensive force justifiable in a situation where you were the initial aggressor if you then attempt to retreat from the situation yet the other person did not allow you to do so. You are also justified in using defensive force after provoking another if that person’s response is violent you believe force is the only way to avoid serious injury or death.