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Self-defense justification in Maryland When can you use self-defense?

Written by
June 17th, 2016

Anybody knows that an individual accused of assault or even murder can be considered innocent if they acted in response to protecting themselves. According to the self-defense law in MD, a person has the right to defend themselves in front of an attacker. But as things aren't always as simple as they seem, there are exceptions to using a self-defense strategy, as any criminal defense lawyer from Maryland will tell you. A So what constitutes as self-defense justification in Maryland? What are the exceptions to this rule? When is a self-defense claim in Annapolis valid?

Requirements for self-defense

An individual may successfully use self-defense when:

  • He or she was physically attacked by another or witnessed somebody getting physically As stated, the physical contact is mandatory. Verbal violence or threats do not constitute grounds for self-defense.
  • He or she didn't attack first
  • He or she genuinely believed that force was necessary to protect themselves or another person
  • He or she didn't use excessive force to avoid injury

Does this mean that you cannot claim self-defense if the attack didn't materialize? Not necessarily. You can still have a valid self-defense claim in Annapolis if you can prove that you reasonably believed you were about to be harmed. But you will also have to prove that you fulfilled your duty of retreat: you attempted to resolve the issue without force, and it wasn't possible, and fleeing was not an option.

When you don't have a self-defense claim

It is needless to say that if an individual started the fight, he or she cannot claim self-defense. But even if they didn't start the fight and were attacked first, there are three situations where self-defense is not an option as a defense strategy:

  • When unreasonable or excessive force was used. This means that your chances of claiming self-defense are very low when you respond to a slap with an assault rifle.
  • When the original crime is over. For example, if a robber threatened you, stole your wallet and ran away, you cannot chase after them, kill them and, afterward, claim self-defense.
  • When you chose to defend yourself rather than escape the situation when you had the possibility to escape. This is valid only in some states, including Maryland.

According to the self-defense law in MD, Maryland does not have a stand your ground law, but you can still claim self-defense if the attack happened in your home.

It may seem logical to you that you were only trying to protect yourself, but to successfully claim self-defense, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Annapolis. Contact the best criminal defense lawyer in Maryland by email at or give us a call at (443) 569-3950. We offer a free consultation of your case so that you can better understand your situation and options.

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