When it comes to violent crimes, such as assault or manslaughter, alleged suspects often claim “self-defense” when accused. Self-defense is defined as the right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence.
According to Colorado law, a person is permitted to use physical force to defend himself, herself, or someone else when:
- You have reason to believe someone is using, or is about to use, unlawful physical force against you or another individual.
- Someone has unlawfully entered your home and you reasonably believe that such person has committed, is committing, or is on the verge of committing a crime and might use physical force, no matter how minor, against any occupant.
In addition, you may also use “deadly” physical force if you reasonably believe a lesser degree of force is inadequate and you have reason to believe that you or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or receiving great bodily harm, the other person is using or reasonably appears on the verge of using physical force while committing or attempting to commit a felony, or the other person is committing or reasonably appears on the verge of kidnapping, robbery, or sexual assault.
Colorado also allows its citizens the “right to expect absolute safety within their own homes”—also known as the “Make My Day” law. This law specifically addresses the use of deadly force in Colorado home intrusions. So if someone breaks into your home, you reasonably believe that another person has committed a crime in your home or intends to commit a crime, and you reasonably believe that such intruder might use any physical force—no matter how severe—against any occupant, you are protected from both criminal and civil liability if you use any degree of force.
On the other hand, you are not allowed to use physical force if you provoke the use of unlawful physical force by the other individual with the intent to cause death or bodily injury to the other party, you are the initial aggressor, or the physical force involved is caused by combat via agreement not specifically authorized by law.
If you have been accused of a criminal offense and believe you were acting in self-defense or defense of another, it is wise to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A qualified lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of your case and determine whether or not self-defense is a viable argument.