To some in Springfield, it may seem as though self-defense is so often cited as a justification for violent action that it loses any validity as an actual defense. Such skepticism is no doubt born of the assumption that when it comes to an altercation, “it takes two to tango.” Yet statistics do seem to show that there are displays of force that may be justified. Indeed, information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in the case of firearms, they are 16-100 times more likely to be used in defense of another as they are against another.
Whether one was defending themselves or others may seem to be a subjective point of view. Local laws, however, leave little room for interpretation when they stipulate what the state views as the justifiable use of force. Section 7-1 of Illinois’ Criminal Offenses Code states that a person is justified in using force to defend themselves and others from another’s unlawful actions if they believe it to be necessary. Such action can only escalate to deadly force if the actor believes it necessary to prevent any of the following:
- Bodily harm
- The commission of a forcible felony
When defending one’s home, defensive force (even deadly force) is assumed to be justified only when a homeowner believes it is the only way to prevent a felony from being committed in their home, or if another is attempting to gain entry into the home in a violent, riotous or tumultuous manner (such that the owner and its occupants believe the threat of assault to be real).
In either of the aforementioned scenarios, one cannot initiate a liability claim in cases where force was used against them if they were determined to be the aggressor in the situation.