The following is a video transcript.
Evan Nappen here: U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for New Jersey. Today I’d like to talk to you about self-defense—particularly when it comes to defending third persons.
In New Jersey, self-defense (particularly the use of deadly force) is difficult, if not impossible, outside of your home because New Jersey makes it extraordinarily difficult for an average law-abiding citizen.
It is virtually impossible to have a carry license. So most, if any self-defense—particularly that with a firearm—that occurs in New Jersey is going to occur in the home where it is lawful to do so.
Self-Defense Outside of Your Home
It is true that you can still exercise self-defense outside the home, but if you are doing so with a firearm you are not licensed to have, then you are going to have a world of trouble with that.
If you are outside your home and you are licensed to carry, then the law of self-defense and use of force would apply. You need to know that New Jersey does require you to retreat.
Self-Defense In Your Home
In your home in New Jersey, there is no duty to retreat. You do not have to retreat in your home. That is something we call the Castle Doctrine. Your home is your castle, and New Jersey does have that.
Prior to Use of Force
If you are going to use force in your home (any force), you must have an honest and reasonable belief that you need force to prevent a crime on your property. Force is distinguished between deadly force and non-deadly force, and the amount of force that you are going to use has to be commensurate with the force you are facing.
But prior to even using force in your home, you have to verbally request that the attacker—the offender—stop their behavior and leave. You first have to give a verbal warning, unless the circumstances just do not permit you to do such a thing. But, you are supposed to give that warning.
Then, you have to believe that your force was necessary to prevent the crime which this aggressor is committing. You must have reasonable belief (and reasonable belief requires you were in your home) that the encounter was sudden and unexpected, and that the defendant—you—had to take immediate action against the intruder.
And even with all that, you still must have the reasonable belief the intruder was going to inflict serious bodily injury or death upon you or that third person. It is complicated, but it is allowable.
If you have any further questions about use of force and protecting yourself and third parties, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney today.