Does self-defense require a person to retreat?

Does self-defense require a person to retreat?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Altercations can turn physical quickly and present individuals with dangerous situations from which they have few options to escape. When confronted with a belligerent or aggressive individual, an Annapolis resident may have no other choice than to fight to protect their own health and welfare. Under Maryland law, they may have the right to use self-defense as a defense in court if they are later charged with any form of assault charge.

Self-defense is subject to its own laws and requirements for appropriate use. Readers may use the contents of this post as information on the topic but should not rely on it as legal advice. When facing criminal charges after using self-defense, an individual can benefit from seeking independent legal counsel from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.

Requirements for self-defense in Maryland

There are several conditions that must be met for a person to appropriately use self-defense. Those conditions include a reasonable belief that the individual is subject to an imminent or immediate threat of danger, that they actually believe they are in danger, that they did not provoke the person who is being aggressive toward them, and that they only used as much force as necessary to mitigate the situation. If an individual cannot meet these requirements, their use of force in self-defense may not be justified.

Reasonable force and a duty to retreat

As mentioned, one of the requirements of self-defense is that an individual only uses as much force as necessary to stop their aggressor from inflicting harm upon them. With this requirement comes the common law requirement that an individual retreat if they can. In general, a person must do as little as possible in terms of inflicting harm on someone else when implementing self-defense.

There is an exception to the retreat rule, however. If an individual is in their home, they do not have a duty to retreat from an aggressor. The nuances of self-defense law are complex, and questions about it as a defense to a criminal charge should be discussed with a Maryland-based criminal defense attorney.