You Were Arrested For Defending Yourself. Now What?

Posted on: 9 July 2015

Being charged with a violent crime after acting in self defense is terrifying. Just because you are charged, doesn't mean that the charge will hold up in court. You need to know why self defense cases go to court and what you can do about it.

Take it Seriously

Some people don't take their charges seriously because they acted in self defense. You can't just assume that the courts will decide it's a mistake and justice will be served. As soon as you are charged with a crime, stop talking to the police and retain a lawyer. It doesn't make you look guilty; it makes you look smart. A lawyer will be able to help navigate you through the charges and the court process. With legal representation, you have a much better chance of making a jury see you acted in self defense if it goes to trial. However, your lawyer might be able to get you acquitted before it comes to that.

Find Out Why You're Charged

If the police have enough evidence to charge you, there may be something that makes it look like it wasn't just self defense. The police might have decided that you acted with excessive force. This means that they believe you caused more harm than necessary to subdue the other person. Another reason people are charged is for shooting an attacker with an illegal firearm. Or there could just not be enough evidence yet that the attack was self defense.

Cooperate With the Investigation

If there is anything that makes you look guilty, it's refusing to cooperate. Don't give the police a hard time just because you're angry about being arrested; it will only hurt you. No matter how many people ask you for a detailed account of the incident, give it to them. The reason you're asked so many times is because investigators have to hear a first-hand account. The police report isn't enough.

They also look for inconsistencies. Be completely honest about every small detail. If you aren't, an inconsistency will appear at some point. If you lie about something small, the police will be much less likely to believe anything that you say. Do whatever the police and courts want in a timely manner and with a good attitude. It will make the process go more quickly and you will have a better chance of it resulting in your favor.

Previous Cases

Here are two previous cases of people who were arrested after defending themselves. They prove that you can have justice if you retain legal representation and cooperate with the investigation.

A Toronto resident named Moses Mahilal was charged with aggravated assault when he stabbed an intruder that broke into his girlfriend's home back in 2011. He was charged because the intruder was found with multiple stab wounds, and the police felt that more than one was excessive. Mahilal retained a lawyer and went through the court process. After a year, the charges against Mahilal were dropped when the courts decided the evidence proved self defense.

An Ontario resident named Ian Thompson woke up to a frightening sight in August of 2010. Four men in masks were throwing firebombs at Thompson's house while shouting death threats. Thompson ran outside in nothing but his underwear, aimed his gun in the direction of his attackers, and pulled the trigger until they ran off. It was his only chance to defend himself and he took it. After Thompson willingly turned in his home surveillance video, the police decided shooting into the dark was reckless and charged him with careless use of a firearm. When the case finally went to trial two and a half years later, the judge acquitted Thompson of the charges, because he believed there was no real case against him.

As you can see by examples of previous cases, being charged doesn't mean you will be convicted. As long as you retain a criminal defence lawyer, take your charges seriously, and cooperate, your self defense claim should shine through.