Understanding Your Right to Self Defense During Civil Unrest

A pediatrician who works at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has become increasingly worried about her safety. She lives in a newer condo building a few blocks away from the hospital. Until recently, she has not had any major safety issues when walking to and from her condo. Her condo itself has security, but she is concerned that she will be accosted while walking late at night after one of her late shifts. After reading that 50 people were murdered in Chicago last weekend, she decided to purchase a handgun for concealed carry.

She does not have an Illinois Concealed Carry License yet. She slips her small handgun into her purse. One night on the way home, she sees a mob of people who appear to be rioting and looting. She puts her head down and tries to escape the mob but realizes the only way out is through. One angry man, clad in a face mask and ski goggles, gets in her face and begins screaming. He grabs her by the arm and shakes her violently. In fear for her life, she pulls out her gun and shoots him, killing him. Now she is facing murder charges. Will she be able to make a case for self-defense under Illinois law??

Illinois’ Castle Doctrine

Illinois recognizes a legal doctrine that has long been established which gives someone using deadly force a defense if they fear imminent death or bodily harm. This defense gives people a right to use deadly force to protect themselves or others in certain situations. The doctrine does not require a person to retreat from danger before using deadly force against an assailant. According to this doctrine, a person can use force, including deadly force, against someone else if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to defend against an individual's imminent use of deadly or potentially deadly force.

The doctrine will protect someone who uses lethal force when they believe that they are in danger or another person in their immediate vicinity is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. The individual who claims the doctrine must prove that lethal force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to herself or someone else. This legal doctrine also justifies the use of force to stop a felony from happening.

Proving Your Right to Self-Defense

With all of the ongoing riots in major cities, including in Chicago, many people have purchased weapons and wonder whether they will be charged with murder if they have to defend themselves with lethal force. One of the most challenging aspects of using the self defense doctrine to justify self-defense is proving that you had a reasonable belief that you would suffer imminent death or great bodily harm if you did not use lethal force. In the case of the woman coming home from work, she would need to argue that the shaking was so violent that she felt she must use lethal force to prevent her death or severe bodily injury. Her argument could be persuasive, especially since she was in the middle of an angry mob threatening to kill her.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

When you need an attorney, experience matters. If you are facing charges related to your use of self-defense, Glasgow & Olsson can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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