Murder is one of the most severe criminal accusations an individual can face. When the state believes that you are directly responsible for the death of another person and that your actions were intentional, not negligent, prosecutors may bring a murder charge against you.
The possible penalties for a murder charge could include life in prison or even a death sentence in North Carolina, which makes it crucial for those facing such accusations to defend themselves. Especially if the state has witnesses or physical evidence connecting you to a crime scene, you may worry that you will not be able to defend yourself against the charges you currently face.
You didn’t intend to break the law or hurt anyone, but the state certainly seems to think you did. Could raising a claim of self-defense help you avoid a criminal conviction?
North Carolina does allow for claims of self-defense
State law permits those who fear for their own safety to engage in acts of self-defense, possibly including the use of lethal force. Those who use force to defend themselves can potentially raise an affirmative defense to the allegations against them.
An individual can also act to protect their personal property or another individual from an imminent threat of harm. To raise a claim of self-defense when accused of causing the death of another person, you will typically need grounds to claim that you feared for your safety.
If another reasonable person would also fear for their safety in the same situation, then the courts may agree with you that you acted in self-defense. Certain factors, such as being the one to initiate a physical confrontation or committing a crime before things turn physical, may limit your ability to claim that you acted in self-defense.
Serious charges require a serious defense strategy
When the state levels potentially life-altering accusations against you, you need to act assertively to protect yourself. Claims of self-defense can help those facing murder charges. Other times, there may be a different defense strategy that would work better given the circumstances and the evidence that the prosecutor has.
Discussing the situation that led to your charges and reviewing the evidence against you will help you start developing a defense strategy when you face charges related to a violent incident.