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The right to defend yourself and others

The concept of self defense seems relatively simple to understand. If you are attacked, you have the right to use a degree of force to protect yourself from injury.

However, a behavior may only fall under the classification of self defense in certain situations. Here are a few of the basics you should know.

Protecting yourself and others

Not all people realize that an act of “self” defense could actually be an action you take to protect someone else or your property.

Knowing the degree of force you can use

A person has the right to defend themselves if doing so is necessary to prevent another party from doing one of the following:

  • Imminent use of unlawful force
  • Unlawful entry into a person’s home
  • Attack on a person’s property

Those who are in danger of being attacked outside of their property must try to retreat from the situation, only using self-defense as a last resort. Using deadly force to prevent these actions is permitted if the attacker would otherwise cause:

  • Imminent death
  • Great bodily harm
  • A felony to be committed

Understanding the castle doctrine

In Illinois, a person who is being attacked in their home is not required to attempt to retreat from the attacker before using self-defense. The idea behind this law is that a person’s dwelling is their castle. Therefore, the property owner should not be required to retreat when an unwelcome person intrudes.

Understanding these caveats can make a big difference in whether an act is considered assault and battery or self-defense.

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