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Many times people are wrongfully arrested for everything up to and including Murder when they were simply defending themselves.  If you are charged with Assualt, Battery, or Homicide, it is important that you obtain experienced Criminal Defense Trial Counsel.  With many Felony Trials under my belt and excellent outcomes I have the experience to heldp you.  If you hire defense counsel for a defense such as Self Defense, you must have EXPERIENCED  defense counsel not just an Attorney that has been an Attorney for many years, one who actually does a lot of trial work is needed.


As for Self Defense the law of Self Defense is complex, lets start with Self Defense for a Homicide.


There are actually two kinds of Self Defense for Homicide, which is actually two defenses both of which I went into on my Homicide article, but want to go further into here. 

The two defenses are Self Defense and Imperfect Self Defense



Self Defense is someone 1. Actually believes in the need to use deadly force and 2. That belief was Resonable.

Lets break those down

An Example of Actual belief in the need to use deadly force would be if someone walks outside and you know that the person does not like you and is known  to have weapons.

You can testify that you actually believed in the need to use deadly force. 


If the before mentioned person came outside and you knew he did not like you and he suddenly turns and pulls a gun, you have your own gun and shoot him dead. 

Because ther other person pulled a gun first a reasonable person would be in fear for there life and this would supply a complete defense to the crime of Murder.


Now lets say under the same circumstances the person above comes outside and you know he hates you and he turns to you and you believe he is coming to kill you and you honestly believe that, but your assumption is wrong and the person is not armed and you shoot and kill him. 

you had an Unreasonable belief in the need to use deadly force and therefore, you would not be guilty of First or Second Degree Murder, but instead, Manslaughter. 

Let’s look at this a little closer.

For both Self Defense and Imperfect Self Defense the first Element is the same

An Actual Belief in the need to use deadly force

If that belief is reasonable then the defense is complete and you could be found not guilty.

If you belief was unreasonable then the crime would be Mansaughter.

This unreasonable belief can reduce a First Degree Murder to Second Degree and Second Degree Murder to Manslaugher.

That is becuase you are not acting out of deliberation and premiditation, you are acting out of the unreasonable belief in the need to use deadly force.

And you are not acting out of Malice, which is needed for second degree murder because you are acting out of the unreasonable belief in the need to use deadly force, not with intent to kil. 

Now this unreasonable self defense is not available for example a Battery charge.

For a charge of Battery you must use reasonable force to protect yourself or someone else from force.

And you must only use the amount of force necessary to protect yourself. 

Many cases will involve self defense during a mutual combat situation, or when the original aggressor becomes the victim.  this is beause the person that was originally attacked used unreasonable force in protecting himself.  The person protecting himself cannot after having defended himself proceed to beat the person that attacked him unconscious for example.


If you have been charged with a Battery or a Homicide, please give us a call so we can held you out.





Gerald Schwab, Jr.


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Law Office of Gerald Schwab, Jr.
Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
5588 N Palm Ave,
Fresno, CA 93704 View Map
Phone: 559.441.1418