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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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What Are The Self Defense Laws In Your State?

If you’re facing a criminal charge because you acted in self-defense against another individual, the self-defense laws in New Jersey may be relevant to your case. Self-defense may be a viable and strong response in many situations. For that reason, a person defending his or her life and limb—other the lives of others—shouldn’t be found guilty of a crime if acting within the bounds of the law.

This post discusses in what conditions New Jersey law considers as appropriate self-defense and in which scenarios self-defense may be used to defend against criminal liability.

New Jersey’s self-defense laws provide the right to protect the self against an unlawful force. (N.J.S.A. 2C: 3-4(a)) says that the use of force “upon or toward” someone else may be justified if “the actor reasonably believes” that the force is needed to protect the self against another individual on (that) occasion.

This means you may use force against another individual if or when you believe that it’s necessary to protect your life. For instance, if you believe your life is in danger or that another person intends to seriously injure you, the law says you may use force against him or her.

Self-defense laws in New Jersey may be exceptionally confusing. For example, N.J.S.A. 2C:3-6 refers to the “use of force” to defend property and premises in many subsections. The bottom line here is that, in general, the use of force to defend your abode or property is permitted in New Jersey. However, the law has many limitations: You may use force in defense of your residence or property but, before you do, you must tell the aggressor to leave.

That said, the law states you don’t need to ask him or her to leave if your request would be considered “useless,” or if the request places you (or others) at greater risk, or if you believe that “substantial harm” will happen to your property’s physical condition.

New Jersey law also addresses the protection of others. You’re justified in the use of force in the event you must intervene to defend another person in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death.

To validate the defense, you need sufficient reason to believe that the intervention of force is necessary to protect him or her. In this scenario, it’s up to you and an experienced defense attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these actions were in self-defense.

Conversely, self-defense may not be justifiable to the court in other circumstances. If an avenue was available for you to escape the attacker, but you chose to use force, you violated the legal duty to retreat.

In addition, the force used to protect yourself must be in proportion to the threat or force used on you. If someone kicks your leg, it is inappropriate to respond by shooting him or her in the face with a gun.

To discuss self-defense laws in New Jersey in relation to your case, contact The Law Offices of John W. Tumelty at 609-345-3300 now.


The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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