What constitutes self-defense in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

As a general rule, individuals cannot use physical force against other people in Illinois. Doing so is a violation of state law. The circumstances of the incident and the outcome determine what charges someone might face. Acts of interpersonal violence could lead to allegations of assault or even homicide.

One of the ways that people respond to such charges is by raising the claim that they acted not with the intent to cause harm but rather with the desire to protect themselves. Self-defense claims can potentially help people avoid convictions for very serious violent criminal offenses under specific circumstances.

People can physically defend themselves and others

Under the current statutes in Illinois, people have the right to defend themselves when they believe someone else is about to use unlawful force against them. If someone pushes another person and then verbally threatens them, the person who the assailant pushed could use physical force to protect themselves against the perceived threat of the other person’s aggression. Illinois also recognizes self-defense claims related to attempts to protect other people. People can act to protect a store clerk facing an attack by a thief. They can also protect family members from the threat of someone invading their home late at night.

When are self-defense claims not possible?

Not everyone accused of a violent crime can assert that they acted to defend themselves or others. If the person accused of a violent offense is the one who initiated the altercation, they may not be able to assert that they acted in self-defense. Typically, people should only use the amount of force that is necessary to exit the situation or stop an assailant’s attack. Those in public spaces typically have an obligation to try to leave instead of immediately resorting to violence. Those engaged in self-defense in their own homes do not have a duty to retreat before taking action.

The unique details of an interaction are what determine whether claims of self-defense are possible or not. Reviewing the situation that led to criminal charges with a skilled legal team can help people determine what defense strategies might be available. Those who have acted to protect themselves or others can potentially avoid criminal convictions when accused of violent offenses.