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Self Defense vs. Stand Your Ground in Colorado?

Recent cases in Florida including the George Zimmerman trial and the case of Marissa Alexander have led to questions regarding whether the laws are similar in Colorado. While Colorado does not have a "stand your ground law," Colorado law imposes no duty to retreat in order to use self defense against Assault or Murder charges. Essentially, this means that a person who is not the initial aggressor, does not need to try to escape before using force.

Elements of the Affirmative Defense Self Defense

In Colorado, self defense means a person is justified in using physical force to defend himself from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by another person, and he may use a degree of force which she reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose. Further, a person is justified in using deadly physical force if he reasonably believed a lesser degree of force was inadequate; and he had reasonable grounds to believe, and did believe, that she or another person was in imminent danger of receiving great bodily injury. Whether the use of force to defend one's self is appropriate turns on the question of whether the person acted reasonably - as a reasonable person in Defendant's situation and circumstances.

Furthermore regarding self defense, in determining whether Defendant reasonably believed that the victim's use of unlawful force was imminent, a jury must consider the circumstances surrounding Defendant's actions as they appeared to him at the time and not with the benefit of hindsight.

Our Make My Day Law

In many cases, District Attorneys in Denver, Broomfield and Douglas County may not charge cases where the need to use force is clearly within the law for self defense. For example, if an intruder is shot while entering a home unlawfully, under Colorado's "Make My Day Law" the homeowner would be justified in using force, even deadly force. However, in a case like the Zimmerman case, the line is harder to draw as the jury would be asked to determine if it was reasonable to use a gun in a street fight. The result in Zimmerman may well have been the same if tried in Adams or Jefferson County, but juries can also differ on evaluating reasonableness, which is why an experienced attorney is crucial for explaining to the jury why and how the actions of the accused were appropriate.

If you have been charged with a crime and feel justified in using self defense, in Broomfield or Douglas County, or anywhere in Colorado, contact the experienced attorneys O'Malley Law Office, P.C. Be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.

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