New Jersey allows for self-defense, but as you can well imagine, it’s a bit complex, and I want to give you some of the basics.

Use of Force

In order to understand that, you first have to understand the basic number-one concept in New Jersey self-defense law: you must reasonably believe your use of force is immediately necessary to protect yourself against the use of unlawful force by another. That’s the standard. That becomes a big jury question as to whether you’ve satisfied those elements or not.

Now, what is a reasonable belief under New Jersey law that is necessary? Well, there are three things that they are going to look at and the jury’s going to consider:

  1. Was force immediately necessary?
  2. Was the opposing force unlawful?
  3. Was the amount of force used necessary?

These are all things the jury are going to look at to assess your reasonableness.

What are some factors that may be looked at by the jury as to reasonableness? The age, size, physical condition of the parties. Were there prior threats or other altercations? Even the reputation of the attacker could be brought in.


When it comes to defending yourself in your home or property, there is no duty to retreat in your home, but there is a duty to retreat if you’re outside your home. But, of course, in New Jersey, it’s rare to be able to defend yourself outside your home with any type of weapon (particularly a firearm) since they don’t issue carry licenses to otherwise law-abiding citizens the way the overwhelming majority of states do.

But in your home, if you’re going to use this, remember we’re talking now about deadly force, so now it’s got to be commensurate. You can use deadly force, but there has to be a threat to your life or a threat or serious injury to yourself or another. Even though there’s no duty to retreat if you’re in your home, New Jersey still wants you to give a warning to the person before you take action. If you make that warning and you’re facing those threats, then you’re allowed to defend yourself, but this is a very complex subject.

If you have more questions about defense, give U.S. LawShield a call and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney