You do have a right to defend yourself in Colorado. If someone attacks you in a bar fight, for instance, or tries to break into your house, you can do what you must to keep yourself safe. You are also allowed to use force if you’re defending others, such as your loved ones who are with you.
However, it is important to note that you can typically just use the “degree of force that is necessary,” and no more. Using excessive force when defending yourself could therefore land you in legal trouble, even if you are correct that your defense itself was warranted.
An example of necessary force
For instance, say that a fight breaks out, a loved one is in danger, and you step in between. So far, the other person has merely shoved your loved one and does not appear to be armed.
Since you have no reason to fear for your life or your loved one’s, you may be able to use physical force to restrain the assailant or push them away. You may even be able to physically strike them. However, if you produced a weapon and attacked them, that may be seen as an unneeded escalation. You cannot shoot someone who pushes you, in other words, and then claim it was justified.
The problems with this standard
One issue with this standard is that it must be determined for each case. There’s no specific line regarding what type of force is necessary. This could lead the court to claim that you used excessive force when you feel that you merely did what you had to do.
For instance, what if the person who attacked you was twice your size? Could you be scared for your life, even if they weren’t armed? What if they did say something, threatening your life, that made you more frightened? Slowly examining all of the details in court, the opposition may claim you were never afraid for your life, but you may know very well that, in that moment, you absolutely were.
Moving forward after serious charges
If you’re facing serious, life-altering legal charges after something like this takes place, you need to know what legal options you have moving forward.