One of the most common defenses in physical or violent altercations is self-defense. If you’ve been following the news at all over the years, odds are you’ve heard different arguments for self-defense or “Stand Your Ground” laws, and all of those laws and defenses vary state by state. So how does Minnesota classify self-defense? We take a closer look at the elements of self-defense in Minnesota.
What Is Self-Defense?
As we mentioned above, self-defense laws vary state by state, so we’re just going to examine how Minnesota handles self-defense claims. The law is laid out in depth in Minnesota Statute 609.065, which states the justifiable use of deadly force in defense of your home or person is legal if the following elements exist:
- The defendant did not initiate the aggression or provocation.
- The defendant had a fear of the immediate threat of severe bodily injury or harm.
- The defendant’s fear was reasonable.
- The defendant lacked a reasonable opportunity to retreat or otherwise avoid the threat.
As you can see, while the elements are clearly established, some of the points are open to interpretation. Determining whether fear was “reasonable” or if the defendant failed to pursue a reasonable opportunity to retreat will be argued for and against by both sides, and there’s no clear cut definition other than examining what an average person would likely do in that situation. As you might imagine, it’s not easy to say with great certainty what the average person would likely do during a moment of great stress and possible threat to health and home.
Self-defense also has a stopping point that needs to be considered. While you have the right to defend yourself, your family and your property against a violent threat, the law states that the would-be victim must cease defensive activities once the would-be aggressor is disarmed, injured or no longer a threat. In other words, you can’t shoot someone in the back who is running away from your home or stab an unconscious person that you just subdued in defense. At this point, your fear is not longer considered reasonable because the threat to your body or property no longer exists. This clause is known as the “Duty To Retreat.”
All of this is why it is so important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side throughout the process. They will be able to develop a strong case that gives you the best chance of establishing self-defense as a believable defense. There will be a lot on the line if you are arguing self-defense, so don’t leave it up to chance. Instead, connect with a criminal defense lawyer like Avery Appelman and let him develop the strongest case possible.
For more information, or to talk to him about a different criminal matter, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.