You may have difficulty envisioning yourself ever facing something as serious as a felony assault charge. Yet many of our past clients here at the First Point Law Group PC felt the same way, yet at the same time, felt justified in reacting with force to defend themselves, their loved ones or their property. Little did they know that their action could end up resulting in criminal accusations.
You may also believe that acting in self-defense is within the law in Virginia. The extent to which your assumption proves correct depends on how far local laws allow defensive action.
Does Virginia have a self-defense statute?
You might think that defending yourself from criminal charges by claiming self-defense is as simple as point to the law the defines the state’s self-defense guidelines. Unfortunately, state lawmakers have statutorily defined self-defense. Indeed, the only reference the state law makes to it is in Section 18.2-57 of the Virginia Code, which lists “self-defense or the defense of others” as not qualifying as simple assault under state law. What this means is that the state looks to legal precedent to establish its standard for self-defense (or in other words, rulings issued in individual court cases).
Do you have a duty to retreat?
In those cases addressed by local courts, the pattern emerging from them in regard to self-defense essentially follows that legal principle of “the Castle Doctrine,” which allows you to use defensive action in defense of your home or personal vehicle. Local case law also (on occasion) addresses the concept of “duty to retreat,” essentially stating that you have no such duty in any situation where you feel threatened and you are not the aggressor in a conflict.
You can learn more about defending yourself from criminal accusations by continuing to explore our site.