Self-defence is the most well-known of all the criminal offences. Our criminal lawyers are experts in raising this defence in Local Court, District Court and Supreme Court trials. Whether murder or a common assault, we are across the intricacies of the law. Our criminal lawyers ensure that our clients are properly advised on self-defence so it can properly be raised in their cases to the frustration of police and prosecutors.
What is self-defence?
Self-defence is a defence to murders, assaults, and most other crimes. Self-defence operates to free you from criminal liability in circumstances where you would have otherwise committed an offence.
The test for self-defence has two ‘limbs.’ Both ‘limbs’ must be satisfied for self-defence to be successfully raised.
The first ‘limb’ provides you will have acted in self-defence if you believe that your conduct is necessary:
- To defend yourself or another person; or
- To prevent or terminate the unlawful deprivation of your liberty or the liberty of another person; or
- To protect property from unlawful taking, destruction, damage or interference; or
- To prevent criminal trespass to any land or premises or to remove a person committing any such criminal trespass.
The second ‘limb’ provides that the conduct is a reasonable response in the circumstances as you perceived them.
The first limb
The legal question for the first limb of the test for self-defence is whether there is a reasonable possibility that you believed your conduct was necessary in order to defend yourself, someone else, or your property.
This question is determined from a completely subjective point of view and takes into account your personal characteristics. It involves considering what you were thinking. Intoxication can be considered as part of your belief.
The second limb
The second limb of the test is determined by an entirely objective assessment of the proportionality of your response to the situation you believed you faced. In other words, was the conduct a reasonable response to the circumstances as you perceived them.
In considering whether your response was reasonable to the situation as you perceived it, some factors particular to you may be taken into account. These include the surrounding physical circumstances in which you acted as well as age, gender and health.
Once our criminal lawyers raise self-defence the prosecution must prove that you were not acting in self-defence beyond a reasonable doubt.