What Are the Illinois Laws for Self-Defense and Use of Force?

St. Charles assault and battery attorney

When an individual’s safety or the safety of his or her loved ones is threatened, a normally non-violent person may become fiercely protective. He or she may take actions that he or she would never take otherwise, including using physical force against the person threatening his or her safety or property. The Illinois Criminal Code describes the requirements that a criminal defendant must meet in order to claim self-defense. Depending on the unique situation, claiming self-defense may help a person charged with assault or battery avoid a conviction.

When Is Physical Violence Justified?

Intentionally harming another person is against the law in most cases. However, if a person uses physical force against another because he or she must do so to protect his or her well-being and/or property, this may not be considered a criminal act. According to the Illinois Criminal Code, an individual is allowed to use force against another person if he or she reasonably believes that the action is necessary to defend against another person’s “imminent use of unlawful force.” In order to successfully claim self-defense in Illinois, a defendant must prove that the following elements were present:

  • The defendant or someone else’s safety was threatened by another individual’s use of unlawful force

  • The use of force was needed to protect the defendant or the other person

  • The level of physical force used was necessary to prevent danger or harm

A person can only claim self-defense if the defendant or another individual was faced with imminent danger. This means that the threat of harm was real and immediate. Using physical force in self-defense may be necessary when a person is in danger of assault, sexual assault, murder, robbery, battery, or domestic violence.

Illinois’ “Castle Doctrine”

Depending on the situation, Illinois allows the use of force to protect both personal safety and the safety of property. Referred to as the “Castle Doctrine,” Illinois law states that a person may be justified in using force against another if it is necessary to prevent or stop the unlawful entry or attack of his or her property. This right also extends to property that is in the possession of a family or household member. In order to successfully claim self-defense for an otherwise illegal action, a defendant will need to prove that the force was necessary and that the degree of force used was reasonable.

Contact a St. Charles Assault and Battery Lawyer

At the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, we understand that an otherwise peaceful individual may become aggressive when his or her safety or property is being threatened. If you are facing criminal charges because you acted in self-defense, you need an attorney who can fight for your rights and give you the best chance possible of avoiding a conviction. Call our office today at 630-232-1780 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an accomplished Illinois criminal defense attorney from our firm.