Last Updated: 07.22.2020

Recently, the news has covered stories about intruders in homes or people being attacked and the victims in the cases defending themselves.  A person has every right to defend themselves, yet in a court of law, there are several factors that need to be met in order to use self-defense as an affirmative defense when facing criminal charges.  Your favorite Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer is here to explain what is included in those factors.

Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer: What four factors need to be met to say that I acted in self-defense?

Although there is no actual self-defense statute in Maryland, there are four factors that need to be met to claim that a person acted in self defense:

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Self-defense weapon

  1. The defendant was not the aggressor (or, although the defendant was the initial aggressor, [he] [she] did not raise the fight to the deadly force level).
  2. The defendant actually believed that [he] [she] was in immediate and imminent danger of bodily harm.
  3. The defendant’s belief was reasonable.
  4. The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend [himself] [herself] in light of the threatened or actual harm

All of these factors need to be met in order for a person to accurately claim that they acted in self-defense.  The absence of one of these factors may show the Judge or jury that the defendant did not necessarily act in self-defense.

Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer: What about the use of deadly force?

The definition of deadly force is force that could reasonably cause death or serious bodily harm to another person.  Escalating an incident to the use of deadly force can only be determined reasonable if the aggressor in the situation posed an immediate and imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to the defendant.

Moreover, before the incident is raised to the level of a threat of deadly force, the defendant is required to make a reasonable effort to retreat from the situation.  However, if the defendant was in their own home, was being robbed, or they didn’t know how to escape or it was unsafe to retreat, then retreat would not have been an option in which to end the conflict.

Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer: I was charged with assault from a fight, but I acted in self-defense, what should I do now?

  1. If you have any injuries as a result of the incident, photograph them.  These can be used as evidence that you were also injured.  Also, by taking photographs at the time of the incident you can better document the result of the incident where taking pictures after the incident may not be as useful as evidence.
  1. If you have talked about the incident: STOP! If you have posted a message on Facebook or tweeted about the incident: STOP! DELETE THE POST! These statements may be incriminating and used against you when your case goes to court.
  2. On the other hand, if the other person has posted on a social media site regarding the incident, print off all of the messages.  As stated in the previous paragraph, these messages may be used in court.


Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you need an experienced attorney.  ENLawyers is comprised of former Assistant State’s Attorneys who know how the State will prepare their case to convict you.  The attorneys at ENLawyers have experience in representing clients who acted in self-defense and can prepare a defense on your behalf to get the best outcome.  Call us today for a free 1-hour consultation.