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What are New York’s self-defense laws?

| Aug 17, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Like most people in Kew Gardens, you may view the thought of you facing criminal charges (especially for a crime as serious as homicide) as ridiculous. Yet at the same, you likely also recognize that there are situations in live where you may feel compelled to act against another with force.

Self-defense may seem to be such so widely claimed in criminal cases that it has lost its legitimacy as a believable defense. When you justifiably act in such a way, however, you need to understand when and where the law permits it.

Defining the Castle Doctrine

When establishing self-defense laws, most states follow one of two different legal philosophies. The first is the “Stand Your Ground” principle, which states that you have no duty to retreat from any scenario where another threatens your personal safety or property (of that of others). This principle holds true for almost any location. The other is “the Castle Doctrine.” According to the Castle Doctrine, you can use force to defend yourself and others, yet that right only applies to scenarios where one is attempting to gain unlawful entry into your home.

New York’s self-defense laws

According to New York’s Penal Law, the state subscribes to the latter principle. Section 35.15 of the state’s Consolidated Laws says that you may react with force (even deadly force) when the following factors are present in your case:

  • You are in your dwelling and you are not the initial aggressor in the altercation
  • You believe the person against whom you act intends to commit a kidnapping, rape or robbery, or;
  • You believe the person against whom you act intends to commit burglary

The rights permitted under New York’s Castle Doctrine do not apply if you act against a police officer attempting to fulfill their public duties.


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