What are the self-defense laws in New York?



    man following a woman

    In the U.S. most jurisdictions allow individuals to use force to defend themselves when they feel an imminent threat of physical harm. Essentially, self-defense laws justify a person’s use of lethal force in situations where they are in danger of a physical threat. Therefore, a person can protect themselves from harm under certain circumstances, even though this behavior would normally be considered a crime. Although it is permitted under certain circumstances under the law, the primary factor in self-defense cases is whether or not individuals were justified in using force. Keep reading to learn about self-defense laws in New York and discover how our knowledgeable Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorneys can protect your rights.

    When can you use force for self-defense in New York?

    According to New York law, a person can only use force for self-defense if they believe they are facing serious bodily harm or death or to defend a third party. New York is not a stand-your-ground state. The state follows the castle doctrine. The castle doctrine is similar to stand-your-ground principles. However, according to the Castle doctrine, individuals are allowed to use deadly force to defend their homes against intruders. Unlike standing your ground, this doctrine deems your home as your safe refuge. That said, this doctrine rationalizes that you should not have to run away from your home when defending it from intruders.

    In other states, individuals must retreat. Essentially, they must retreat meaning they must take reasonable steps like stepping back or walking away to avoid harm. They are required to retreat from the threat as much as possible before resorting to violence. If they have withdrawn themselves as much as possible, they can then use force for self-defense. Failing to take such steps before using force may make their actions unwarranted and individuals could face criminal charges for unlawful self-defense. However, as mentioned above New York follows the Castle doctrine which means individuals have no duty to retreat. This is critical to note as you may be hesitant to protect yourself when facing imminent danger.

    Understanding when you can use force for self-defense may be challenging as in some instances physical force is not appropriate and can result in criminal charges. If you have been charged with assault, manslaughter, or murder, you may feel overwhelmed as you applied force for self-defense purposes. If this is the case, you need a talented Nassau County criminal defense lawyer on your side. With years of experience, our firm can help you prove that you were justified in using force for self-defense purposes as you were under imminent threat of physical harm. Contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. today to retain quality legal representation.

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