Criminal Law

Will I Still Face Murder Charges If I Acted In Self-Defense?

Self Defense

You can wonder if you have acted in self defense that taking the life of another will not lead you to any kind of trouble. 

But, unfortunately, you will still be charged with committing murder even when you have acted in self defense to save yourself from a possible attack on your life. 

In this article, we will discuss whether you will be charged with murder if you have acted in self-defense. 

Can You Go To Jail For Killing Someone In Self-Defense?

Yes, it is still possible for you to go to jail when you have acted in self-defense, which has led you to kill someone. 

However, the act of self defense can be used for the purpose of a defense strategy that can possibly save you from serving jail time. This means the provision of self defense can be used in terms of a legitimate defense for murder or other violent crimes. 

On the other hand, there is a twist to this. The jury will have to be acceptable in regard to your act of self defense to clear your charge of murder. This means there should be appropriate evidence to prove that you had no intention of murder. 

There are stringent regulations that govern the notion of self defense in terms of murder cases in the United States. This means there are factors that are counted and not counted as self defense within the region. 

For instance, you have started a fight that escalated to a level that led to the death of one of the individuals who got involved in the fight. In such circumstances, you cannot claim to have acted in self defense, as you are the reason behind the occurrence of the fight. 

On the other hand, if you have acted in self defense, then you have to prove your reason for using deadly force that led to killing someone for the purpose of saving yourself. 

Acts That Can Prove Self Defense As Valid For Self Protection

Your act of self defense can be proved in a court of law if you have been faced with any of the following acts: 

  • The attacker has committed or tried to commit kidnapping. 
  • The attacker has committed or tried to commit rape. 
  • The attacker has committed or tried to commit robbery. 
  • The attacker has committed or tried to commit a forcible sexual act. 
  • If you have been trying to protect your property from burglary or arson. 

The laws that surround the concept of self defense in the United States are complex and tend to require a highly experienced criminal defense attorney to fight such cases in court. 

When Is It Self-Defense and When Is It Manslaughter?

You might confuse the terms like murder, manslaughter, and self defense. Three of these terms have different meanings. 


Murder is defined as the act of unlawful killing of another individual. 

A murder occurs when there is a presence of intent and premeditation to take the life of another. 

The punishments of murder are considered as one of the harshest to exist within the United States. This is because, murder is a grave crime that leads to loss of life of another. 

Moreover, one of the traditional definitions of murder is unlawful killing of an individual that has been conducted with malice. 

Conducted with malice means the individual has given consideration before conducting the murder. 


Manslaughter is considered as a lesser crime compared to murder. But, nevertheless it is still a crime. 

In some instances, a murder is considered a manslaughter due to the presence of extenuating possibilities. Additionally, a killing to be considered manslaughter requires to not have malice. 

Due to this distinction, punishment for manslaughter is much lesser compared to murder. But, the punishment for this crime is also serious just like murder. 

However, there are two kinds of manslaughter that tend to exist. Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when an individual takes the life of another in the heat of passion. 

On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter is when the life of another has been lost due to one’s negligence and recklessness. 

Self Defense Killing 

One can kill someone in the attempt of saving themselves from a possible attack. This type of crime is not considered a grave crime like murder or manslaughter. 

The justice system of United States has been noted to recognize the right of protection of oneself from harm. 

It also recognizes the right of using force for protecting oneself from the other attacking party. 

In order to actually prove that you have killed someone in terms of self defense, you will be required to prove appropriate evidence regarding your use of force in face of imminent danger. 

Different states in the United States have varying laws regarding self defense killings. Some states have guidelines that state that the defendant should retreat from the face of danger at the first chance. 

This is for restricting the exertion of force before harm or danger is being faced by the defandant. 

On the other hand, some states does not advice in retreating from the face of danger if they are in attack from another individaul at their own house.  

So, the factor of self defense is a critical aspect that is considered in a court of law for proving one’s intention of killing someone else. 

Final Thoughts !

If you have been charged with charges of murder in spite of acting in self defense, you will be trailed in a court of law. 

This is because you have to prove to the judge and jury with appropriate evidence that you have faced imminent danger that led you to use force that took the life of your attacker. 

Due to this, it is advised that you get hold of a good and highly experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court if you have been charged with murder even when you have acted in self defense.

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Jyoti Jha
Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.

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