Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

How Does Self Defense Work in a Georgia Criminal Case?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Dec 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

When most people think of Georgia Criminal Defenses, they first think of self defense. Unfortunately, the media has sent confusing signals about this particular defense leading people to believe it is easy to utilize and apply in one's own criminal case. 

As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will outline the defense of Self Defense in Georgia by diving into the law behind it and explaining when it can apply in a criminal case in today's post. 

Self Defense in Georgia

The Georgia Code defines Self Defense in our state in the following statute:

A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force; however, a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent commission of a forcible felony. O.C.G.A. §16-3-21.

As you can see, the law itself outlines when self defense is accepted and when it is not. However, the wording can be difficult to understand. 

To break it down, two elements must be present to use deadly force in self defense. 

  1. The danger to either himself or a third person must be imminent.
  2. He must reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to self or a third person.

It is also important to point out when use of deadly force in self defense is NOT justified by law. These scenarios include the following. First, if he initially provokes the use of force against himself with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant. Second, if he is attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony. And third, if he was the aggressor or was engaged in combat by agreement unless he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so and the other, notwithstanding, continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force.

Practice Note

As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, I write these explanations of certain defenses not so that people can attempt to defend themselves in their own case, but so that people have a better understanding of the law. No one - I repeat - no one should attempt to represent themselves in their own criminal case. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact our offices today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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