Self-Defense under Illinois Criminal Law

 Posted on September 23, 2015 in Criminal Defense

self-defense, Illinois law, Chicago Criminal Defense LawyerIn recent years, the news has been filled with cases about self-defense and so-called "stand your ground" laws. Illinois law makes it legal to protect yourself in self-defense in certain situations. Sometimes when someone has been charged with a crime like assault or even murder, they claim they acted in self-defense. How does self-defense work in the criminal justice system?

What Self-Defense Means in Illinois

Every state has a different definition of what self-defense means. In Illinois you properly act in self-defense when:

  • Force is threatened against you or someone else;
  • You are not the aggressor;
  • You must have been threatened with unlawful force;
  • The danger of harm is imminent;
  • You must believe the danger exists;
  • You must believe your use of force is necessary to avoid the danger; and
  • The kind and amount of force you use must in fact be necessary.

Every element of self defense must be present to be legal. For example, if you threaten to rob someone with a gun and then the victim shoots you at, if you shoot back you are not acting self-defense because you were the aggressor. Similarly, if you are the victim of a robbery and you threaten to shoot the robber and the robber runs away, you cannot chase them and shoot after them and then claim it was self defense because you became the aggressor when you chased after the robber.

How it Works as an Affirmative Defense

Self-defense is an affirmative defense under Illinois law. This means that the defendant must first raise the defense as an excuse to the conduct and present convincing evidence of self-defense. Once the defendant successfully raises self-defense, the prosecution must disprove the defense by showing one or more of the elements was missing.

Related Defenses

Illinois has several other affirmative defenses that are similar to self-defense. Each works slightly differently. It is possible for more than one of these defenses to be raised in a single case.

Examples of related defenses include:

  • Defense of Another; and
  • Defense of Dwelling or Other Property

Self-defense is a technical issue in criminal law. If you have been charged with a crime, or are being investigated, contact an experienced, aggressive Illinois criminal defense lawyer right away. You need to understand your rights and to find someone who will fight to protect them. Call 312-629-0669 for a consultation today at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney.


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