Pleading Self-Defense in Illinois
According to Illinois criminal code 720 ILCS 5, it is acceptable for an individual to use force against someone else when that person reasonably believes that this force is necessary to defend themselves or someone else against another party’s impending violence. This means that if you believed that force was necessary to use in order to protect yourself or another person, you are justified in taking such actions. The statute goes on to say, “However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.” For example, if you are a six-foot tall, 200-pound male and you beat up an unarmed, frail, 80-year-old woman and claimed that you feared for your life or another’s, that self-defense plea would not be accepted in court.
Use of Force to Protect a Dwelling or Property
It is lawful to use force to protect a home or property. However, it is only lawful to use force to protect a dwelling if:
- The entry is made in a riotous or tumultuous manner and the use of force is believed to be necessary to prevent an assault; or
- It is believed that force is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony within the dwelling.
You cannot shoot or strike a person who is not in the commission of a felony or who does not pose a reasonable threat to you or another’s safety, even if they are in your home. Likewise, the use of deadly force to protect property is acceptable only when a person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” A forcible felony is defined by Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/2-8 as:
- First or second degree murder;
- Predatory criminal sexual assault of a minor;
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault;
- Criminal sexual assault;
- Robbery; or
- A number of other crimes not included on this list.
Self-defense is never lawful if you were involved in committing a forcible felony. Similarly, in some scenarios, if you initially provoked the use of force against yourself, you may not be able to successfully plead self-defense.
Call an Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney Today
In assault, first degree, and second degree murder charges, a successful plea of self-defense could result in all charges being dropped. Using self-defense to protect yourself or another from injury or death, as well as a dwelling or property, can be a completely acceptable action in Illinois. However, even if you are completely innocent, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer for a plea of self-defense to be successful. Contact the passionate Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today for immediate legal assistance.