Self Defense I (non-deadly force)

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 12:22pm
beat down

In Oklahoma, generally speaking, if you are being assaulted by another then you have the right to defend yourself.  There are a couple of Oklahoma statutes that authorize such defense; one applies to using non-deadly force in defense of yourself and the other applies to using deadly force.  Today I'm going to talk about using non-deadly force and how it applies to defending yourself against an accusation that you've committed a crime.

So first things first.  If the evidence is very clear that the force used was for defense and the force used in defense is moderate the police will generally not recommend charges and the district attorney will generally not file them.  Oklahoma is pretty friendly to the use of force for self-defense.  However, there are murkier cases.  I'll start by examining the statute.

21 O.S. §643(3) says:  

"To use or to attempt to offer to use force or violence upon or toward the person of another is not unlawful in the following cases: [and there are others besides this one] 3. When committed either by the person about to be injured, or by any other person in such person's aid or defense, in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against such person, or any trespass or other unlawful interference with real or personal property in such person's lawful possession; provided the force or violence used is not more than sufficient to prevent such offense;"

The first thing to note is that using violence against others without a lawful reason is generally illegal and can result in charges.  There are several lawful situations but I'm assuming, for explaining this, that we are talking about strangers, or at least not relations, engaged in a fist fight of some sort.  So if you start a fist fight you are liable to be prosecuted for it.  If someone starts a fist fight with you then you will have to be able to show, after the fact, that your response was, in fact, a response to a person attempting to injure you in some way and you were responding in order to prevent or attempt to prevent the injury.  The definition of injury is pretty broad.  In addition to obvious injuries like being hit other injuries would be interference with your property including your real estate.  So you can use a moderate amount of force to prevent entry to your house or apartment or upon your land (real estate) or to prevent someone from stealing your purse or entering your car (personal property).  This statute, however does not directly authorize deadly force in response to these things.  You can only use the force sufficient to prevent the offense without risking trouble.

If there are not numerous witnesses, and even if they are since witnesses might be friendly to the offender rather than you, it is always advisable to record the confrontation.  The recording can serve to prevent the situation from being used against you.  Remember, lots of people, especially the sort who assault people, will lie to try to escape punishment and the first thing they will lie about is how all this happened.  So record it.  A lot of times a record will settle things at the scene if police become involved or if hospitalization is necessary.  If you are in a confrontation with someone attempting to injure you or interfere with you keep and cool head.  The safest thing to do is call the police, but if you need to, you are authorized under the law to defend yourself.

I will cover deadly self defense in another post.  If you find yourself accused of a crime when you were defending yourself you are in a serious situation.  Call us at (405) 601-9393.  We are state wide with reasonable rates and excellent results.

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