Whether you have been accused of assault or even murder, the most popular legal defense in violent crime cases is self-defense. You can use self-defense to protect yourself or another individual from injury – so long as you have reason to believe that you or another person is in imminent danger.
In general, the use of force in response to an immediate threat must be proportionate to the perceived threat of violence. In other words, you can only use as much force as necessary to deter the threat.
For example, if someone tries to attack you without weapons, you are allowed to defend yourself by punching or kicking back. On the other hand, if you defend yourself by stabbing the perpetrator with a knife or shooting him with a gun even though he did not have a weapon on his person, self-defense law does not apply in this situation.
When it comes to using deadly force to defend yourself, Rhode Island is a “duty to retreat” state, as opposed to a “stand your ground” state. The duty to retreat means you must first avoid the danger by retreating to safety before you can exercise deadly force, if you are aware of an available way to escape the situation.
However, this duty does not apply to using self-defense in your home. Rhode Island also has a “castle doctrine law,” which means you can defend yourself by using deadly force if you believe someone broke into your home to commit a felony and you are in danger of great bodily harm or death.
The only exception to this rule is if the perpetrator also lives in the home. In such situations, you must first retreat before you can use deadly force.
The castle doctrine does not apply to violent crimes that take place outside the home. This means you must retreat or attempt to do so if faced with deadly force.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a violent crime in Rhode Island, contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. today at (401) 312-4385 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Schedule a free consultation immediately!