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What does imperfect self-defense mean in violent crimes?

As in most states, if you have been charged with a violent crime in Maryland, you will most likely find yourself in a lot of trouble. If convicted, everything about your life and the lives of those you love is going to change. You will likely be required to pay fines or even serve out a prison sentence. At the very least, your reputation as a good citizen will take a hard hit.

Developing a solid defense is your first and most powerful tool. There are many defenses available for violent crimes and self-defense is one of them. However, self-defense can be challenging to prove, especially if the self-defense action did not match the level of threat or imminent harm. Imperfect self-defense is recognized in Maryland and it can be used in lieu of an ordinary self-defense plea.

Here is a typical scenario in which an imperfect self-defense plea could be used effectively. Someone approaches you in a parking lot at night. You are overcome by fear that you are in imminent danger and strike out at the person. You hit the person and he or she falls to the ground, injured either by your strike or by hitting the hard pavement.

The hinge-point of an imperfect self-defense is that the defendant’s fear of imminent physical harm was genuine but also “objectively unreasonable.” In other words, the defendant was truly afraid at the time but this fear was unreasonable as was the self-defense action.

Imperfect self-defense cannot save a defendant from criminal charges, but it can reduce the seriousness of the charges and the subsequent punishment if convicted. For best results, it is a good idea to explore all of your defense options with an attorney if you are facing violent crime charges.

Source: FindLaw, “Self-Defense Overview,” accessed Oct. 10, 2016

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