Each state’s laws are different when addressing common phrases, such as the phrase “legally justified use of force and deadly force.” What do those words mean to us in Georgia?
It is legal in Georgia to threaten the use of force or to use force or deadly force against another person when there is a legal “justification” for doing so. A legal justification is an acceptable reason or excuse under the law for taking an action that would otherwise be considered a crime. In Georgia, a legal justification is a defense to specific types of conduct that might otherwise be a crime, such as injuring another person when you are threatened by that person.
Any time an individual makes intentional physical contact with another person, even in the context of protecting himself or herself, he or she has used force. Let’s distinguish force from deadly force.
Use of Force
Our Georgia laws allow for the use of force (physical acts such as pushing, hitting, kicking, and slapping) in self-protection when an individual reasonably believes it’s necessary to defend himself, herself, or another person against “the imminent use of unlawful force.”
Use of Deadly Force
You may justifiably use deadly force to defend yourself or another from death or great bodily injury, or from the commission of what is known as a “forcible felony.” A forcible felony is any felony that contains an element of personal force, such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, or armed robbery. Deadly force, by its legal definition, occurs when a person takes an action that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another.
The “legally justified use of force and deadly force” can be a confusing topic. If you have questions about the legal application of the phrase, “legally justified use of force and deadly force,” please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.