Self Defence: A Necessary Evil

This article discusses the need and importance of self defence for safety of one's own self. Self defence is also an excuse for commission of crimes since one's own protection is always paramount. Read along to know more!

In simple words, we can say that self-defence means defending oneself or protecting self. In other words, we can say that self-defence means an act or instance of defending or protecting one’s own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy. Self-Defence is commonly any action in response to an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm to a person or property. This right is however not just limited to individuals and is also available to States. The concept of Self-Defence has been an important doctrine of International Law which has again gained importance in the light of growing acts of illegal use of force threatening world peace and security. Thus it becomes important to clearly understand this doctrine as it exists today and its application to the modern world.

Now we are going to have a look in terms of the law. The legal term self-defence refers to a type of affirmative defence used to explain one person’s use of force against another person. For example, self-defence describes a situation wherein one person reasonably uses force to defend himself against an attack by another person on the subway. A person might use non-deadly force, or deadly force, to defend himself, depending on the situation. To explore this concept, consider the following self-defence definition.

  1. The act of defending oneself, one’s family, or one’s property through the use of force.
  2. A plea of justification for the use of force, or for the killing of another person.

It has its origin from English Common Law (1645-1655)

Self Defence Laws

Self-defence laws in the U.S. dictate that a person is allowed to use force against another person if it “reasonably” appears necessary to do so. Situations that would call for the use of force involve those wherein a threat of “unlawful” and “immediate” violence has presented itself. In these cases, a person may be permitted to use either deadly or non-deadly force in order to protect himself or his family.

Self-defence laws restrict the protections of such a defence for those who initiate the conflict. There are two ways a person can remain protected under self-defence laws if he was the one to start the conflict. The first is if he chose to leave the fight and informed the aggressor of his surrender, and the aggressor pursued him anyway. The second is if the other person responded to the presentation of a conflict with excessive force.

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What follows is an example of self-defence that would be permitted as a defence for an aggressor:

Billy discovers that Jack has been physically abusive toward Billy’s sister, Emily. Billy goes to the local bar, where he knows Jack likes to hang out and punches Jack in the face. Billy immediately regrets what he did and apologizes to Jack, but Jack does refuse to accept Billy’s apology. Instead, Jack pulls a gun on Billy.

Despite the fact that Billy had originally started the fight, Billy would be justified in using force against Jack to restrain him, or otherwise disarm him, due to the immediate threat that Jack is posing to Billy’s life. In this example, Jack clearly responded to the situation with excessive force.

Right of Self Defence

The right of self-defence is the right for a person to use reasonable force to defend himself, his property, or the lives of others. If necessary, the use of deadly force can be permitted, depending on the circumstances. Once someone uses excessive force, which is more force than the situation truly calls for, then he gives up his right of self-defence. In that case, he goes from being the person defending himself to the aggressor in the action. If a defendant exercises his right of self-defence as a response to a threat of death or serious harm, then he is said to have a “perfect self-defence” justification.

Reasonable Force

Reasonable force refers to the amount of force that is necessary for a person to defend himself or his property, without going overboard. It is especially important to prove whether or not the force a person used was reasonable in order to determine his level of liability for the crime. Hence why reasonable force is also referred to as “legal force.”  For instance, a father who gets into an argument with his son’s baseball coach, shoving him with his hands, has started the conflict. If the coach, in defending himself, picks up a baseball bat and slams it into the father’s head several times, it could not reasonably be considered self-defence.

If a person can prove that he used reasonable force to defend himself, he may be able to avoid being prosecuted for a crime.

If a person uses more force than what would be considered necessary to protect himself from an aggressor, then this would be considered excessive or unreasonable force. Once the excessive force has been proven, and then the defendant’s self-defence argument is considered forfeited. For instance, a defendant is justified in using force that is intended or likely to cause death or severe injury if someone violently enters his home, and he believes such force is necessary to prevent harm from coming to himself, or to another person in the home.

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Self Defence in the Context of Law

The law permits the use of reasonable force to protect one’s person or property. If any person uses the force which is necessary for self-defense, the person will not be liable for the harm caused thereby. The use of force is justified only for the purpose of defence. There should be an imminent threat to the personal safety or property. Example: A would not be satisfied in using force against B, merely because he thinks that B would not attack him some day, nor can the force be justified by the way of relation after the attack is already over.

It is also necessary that such force as is absolutely necessary to repel the invasion should be used: thus. “If A strikes B, B cannot justify drawing his sword and cutting off his hand.” The force used should not be excessive. What force is necessary depends on the circumstances of each case. “While the law recognizes the right of self-defence, the right to repel force with force, no right is to be abused and the right of self -defence is one which may be easily abused. The force employed must not be out of proportion to the apparent urgency of an occasion. For the protection of property also, the law permits taking of such measures as may be reasonably necessary for the purpose. Fixing f broken pieces of glass or spikes on a wall or keeping a fierce dog can be justified but not fixing of spring guns.

Reasons To Learn Self-Defence

1. To keep yourself safe and protect all the time – We generally hear different stories about rape, murder, kidnapping, homicide, burglary as well as others in the news every day. In fact, it is scary to go outside alone at night. However, it is also true that there are times that you need to. Therefore, it would be wise if you know how to defend yourself against bad people. There are a large number of people out there who can cause you harm and hurt you, but if you know some self-defence techniques like punching, blocking a punch and kicking, then you have better chances of keeping yourself safe all the time.

  1. Boost your self-confidence – knowing that you learn self-defence techniques or moves will definitely give you some kind of boost in your morale. You will definitely gain self-confidence that you never knew you had. The fact is that it feels great to know that you can defend yourself from anyone, any time of the day.
  2. To improve your physical and mental strength – Undergoing training in martial arts will definitely improve your physical and mental strength. It is something that will keep your muscles healthy and strong. You could develop balance, speed, and overall body coordination. Learning martial arts is something that will definitely teach you how to be fierce. But most important of all, it will surely teach you how to be strong to face the opponent or assailant.
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I would like to conclude my article with a few own opinions and suggestions. Life is a gift. It’s also unpredictable. Self-defence helps us to prepare for unexpected situations and also helps develop increased mental and physical health. It may be hard to imagine being attacked by a stranger, but it happens every day. These attacks occur without warning, and when individuals least expect it. In large cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, these attacks are all the more common. While this is a scary fact, it is something the average Indian should take seriously. By learning the basics of self-defence, you help prepare yourself for dangerous and unforeseen circumstances. Now a day the crime rate is increasing and it is time to learn to protect ourselves. We must have knowledge of self-defence in this era. And we should promote it in our society. But one important thing we must keep in mind that there should be the use of reasonable force. At last, I would like to conclude with one important sentence and that is: “Self defence is a shortlist of techniques that may get you out alive when you are already screwed”.

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