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Breaking down New York’s self-defense law

Like many people in New York, you may view another’s claim that (in response to accusations of assault) they were only acting in self-defense with a certain degree of skepticism. That is, of course, until you end up in a position where you feel compelled to defend yourself.

Many come to us here at James Kleinbaum Attorney at Law, P.C. has faced such a situation concerned about facing criminal charges. If you share the same concern after acting in defense of yourself or others, then it behooves you to know to what degree the law permits defensive action.

The Castle Doctrine

The difference between justified and criminal actions often comes down to your duty to retreat, Many states follow the legal philosophy of “Stand Your Ground” in this regard, which essentially permits you to answer a credible threat to your own safety with defensive action (regardless of the location the threat occurs in).

New York, however, subscribes to a different principle. Its self-defense law finds its footing in “the Castle Doctrine,” which permits you to act in self-defense only when facing a threat in a location where you are legally entitled to be.

Exceptions to New York’s self-defense law

Indeed, Section 35.15 of New York’s Penal Law states the law allows for defensive force (even deadly force) when it occurs in response to a reasonable threat posed in your home (or any dwelling you have a legal right to be in). In addition, you must have a reasonable fear of any of the following crimes:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Robbery

You may also use force in an attempt to thwart a burglary. You cannot use it, however, if you were the initial aggressor in an altercation.

You can find more information on answering criminal charges on our site.