You have the right to defend yourself. If someone died during those actions, you may not have committed murder under Indiana law. However, it's not as simple as telling police that you were defending yourself.
This can be a complex concept to prove in court. Even when the situation appears to be an obvious case of self-defense, certain questions need answering first. Understanding the scrutiny you will face may help you understand why you must go through this process. After all, another person died, and officials want to ensure that it was not the result of criminal activity.
Police, prosecutors and the courts often want answers to questions such as the following:
- Was deadly force really necessary in this case?
- Was there a real and imminent threat of violence?
- Was it reasonable to believe the threat existed?
- Did you provoke the other party?
Fortunately, Indiana does not require its residents to attempt to flee from the situation before using deadly force in self-defense regardless of where it took place. However, you could still face intense scrutiny if you provoked the other party.
The Castle Doctrine allows you to use lethal force to defend yourself and your loved ones in your home against anyone who illegally enters your home without your permission.
Was the threat against your life imminent? In order to claim self-defense, the threat against your life must be immediate. If the danger passes, you no longer have the same protections from the self-defense doctrine. In addition, it takes more than mere words to create the level of fear needed to consider a threat imminent.
The other factor to consider is whether a reasonable person would have believed that his or her life was in danger in the same situation. If so, did you respond with an appropriate amount of force? Was the other party in a position to take your life? If so, you may be justified in using any force necessary to end the threat to your life.
Even more questions
What happens if you really did believe that your life was in danger at the time, but a "reasonable person" would not agree? Under these circumstances, you may still be found guilty of a crime, but perhaps not murder.
Answering your questions
The concept of self-defense can be a tricky one. Even this brief article cannot adequately articulate the nuances that apply to the use of this defense. You more than likely still have questions you need answered. It would probably be a good idea to speak with an attorney about your situation as soon as possible. Some people may try to convince you that "lawyering up" makes you look guilty. That simply isn't true. It is your right to seek representation, especially when your freedom is at stake.