The complex self-defense laws in Maryland are often misunderstood, with many individuals believing that they have no legal right to use self-defense even when it is appropriate to do so.
There are several factors that need to be present in order to justifiably use self-defense as a legal defense for any actions that you may have taken in a situation where aggression or violence has occurred.
- You must not have been the aggressor(the individual who started the confrontation).
- You must have believed that you were in imminent danger of being harmed by the other individual(s).
- Your belief that you were in danger must have been reasonable in the circumstances of the situation.
- The force that you used was not any more than was necessary to protect yourself from the threatened or actual harm that could occur.
If you have recently had to use self-defense to protect your home from a serious threat but now find yourself in legal trouble, contact our Pikesville law offices at (410) 484-0400.
Do I Have to Retreat Before I Can Legally Use Self-Defense in Maryland?
The legal obligation to retreat can be difficult to understand but is based on the location in which the altercation or violence is taking place.
For example, if you are in a public place such as a parking lot, you have a legal obligation to retreat from the situation. You must make every effort to leave the situation before making the decision to resort to the use of physical force.
Conversely, if you are in your own home and an intruder breaks in, you are not legally obligated to retreat before making the decision to use physical force.
Is it Legal to Carry Pepper Spray for Self-Defense in Maryland?
In Maryland, it is legal for an individual to purchase, carry, and use pepper spray for self-defense. The laws of Maryland allow an individual to carry pepper spray as a “reasonable precaution” in order to ensure their personal safety. The law does permit an individual to conceal the pepper spray; however, an individual may not carry it with the intent of harming another person. Other requirements include:
- An individual must be at least 18 years old to buy pepper spray.
- The individual must not have any felony convictions.
- The pepper spray is only to be used for self-defense purposes.
It should also be mentioned that pepper spray may not be packed in carry-on bags when flying or taken into a court building.
Should I Hire An Attorney if I Used Self-Defense but Have Still Been Charged With a Crime?
If you used self-defense to protect yourself or your family but have still been arrested for a crime such as battery, assault, or other serious crime, then you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. There have been many instances where law enforcement officers have actually arrested individuals for using self-defense in situations where it was their legal right to do so. There are often common misconceptions about this law and when you can and cannot use it.
Our criminal defense attorneys are highly knowledgeable concerning the state laws that relate to self-defense. We can inform you of your legal rights and advise you of your best options going forward. We recognize that there may be instances where you have a legal right to defend your home and family against a dangerous threat.
Contact our law office by calling (410) 484-0400 and scheduling a free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys who understand self-defense laws and who will fight for your rights. We look forward to serving you.