Legally reviewed by:
King Law
June 16, 2024

In this crazy world we live in, one never knows when you may experience a threat to your life, your family or loved ones’ lives, or your property. Thankfully, North Carolina law provides several defenses and laws, including the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws, to enable you to protect yourself and others. Specific statutes, such as G.S. § 14‑51.3, justify the use of deadly force in certain situations. Several examples are provided below on how these defenses could play out, but these situations are always very fact-specific and depend on the circumstances. For these reasons, nothing in this post should be considered legal advice for your specific situation.

What Is Self-Defense?

Self-defense is a legal concept that allows individuals to protect themselves from harm. In North Carolina, the law recognizes your right to defend yourself, your family, and your property when faced with an immediate threat. This legal right enables you to use reasonable force to prevent harm, provided the circumstances justify such actions.

Self-defense is justified when there is an imminent danger of harm. The fundamental principle of self-defense is that the force used must be proportionate to the threat faced. For example, if someone physically attacks you, you may use a similar level of force to protect yourself. However, the force used must be necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. Excessive force, such as responding to a minor threat with deadly force, is not protected under self-defense laws.

It’s important to note that self-defense laws are designed to protect those who act to prevent harm, not those who instigate conflicts. Therefore, to claim self-defense, you must not be the aggressor in the situation. Additionally, there is no duty to retreat in North Carolina unless you attempt to use deadly force against a non-dead threat. Understanding these principles is crucial for lawfully protecting yourself and others in threatening situations.

When and how can I use self-defense or defend others?

Generally, the use of force against a person posing a threat must be reasonably necessary to protect yourself. Further, the amount of force must be reasonable as well. For example, if someone is squirting you with a water gun you cannot attack them with a baseball bat. On the other hand, if someone is attacking you with a stick, you could probably defend yourself with a similar object. You can likewise use reasonable and necessary force to defend another person.

The ‘stand your ground’ law allows individuals to use force in self-defense without the duty to retreat when they are in a place where they have a legal right to be. This law has significant implications for how force can be used in various scenarios.

When may I use deadly force?

Deadly force may only be used if you reasonably believe that action is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm, imminent death, or in lawful defense of another. If someone is vandalizing your car, you cannot shoot them with a gun. If a 100-pound boy tries to punch a 200-pound man, the larger man cannot stab the boy with a knife. It may be a different story if the 200-pound man tries to attack the 100-pound boy.

Deadly force may also be used to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to oneself or another person.

In any case, you cannot be the aggressor (i.e., you cannot start the fight and later claim self-defense), but there is no duty to retreat unless you attempt to use deadly force against a non-deadly threat.

What about protecting your property?

Reasonable non-deadly force may be used to protect property. If someone snatches your purse, you could spray them with pepper spray, but you could not fire a gun at them unless the attacker attempts to cause you great bodily harm.

Under North Carolina’s self-defense laws, the castle doctrine allows individuals to use deadly force to protect their home, vehicle, or workplace without a legal obligation to retreat, provided they believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.

What if someone threatens my house?

Deadly force may be used in defense of your home or residence if you reasonably believe the attacker intends to kill, inflict serious bodily harm, or commit a felony in the residence. If you come home during the day and someone is stealing your tools out of your shed, you could physically try to prevent them from taking your property, but you can’t always use a firearm or other deadly weapon in that situation. Of course, if someone tries to break into your home during the middle of the night, it’s likely reasonable to use a deadly weapon to protect yourself.

How Can King Law Help You?

At King Law, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive legal support related to self-defense and firearm laws in North Carolina. Our experienced team understands the complexities of these laws and is committed to helping you navigate them effectively. Our criminal defense lawyers provide essential legal counsel for self-defense cases, ensuring you have the best possible representation. Whether you are facing charges or need guidance on legally defending yourself and your property, we emphasize the importance of legal representation to protect against criminal prosecution. We are here to assist you.

Overview of Our Services

  • Legal Consultation: We offer detailed consultations to help you understand your rights and the legal boundaries of self-defense.
    • It is crucial not to speak with law enforcement officials without legal counsel to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Defense Representation: If you are charged with a crime related to self-defense, our skilled attorneys will provide a robust defense to protect your rights.
  • Education and Compliance: We provide resources and advice to ensure you comply with state laws regarding self-defense and firearm use.

Why Choose King Law?

Choosing King Law means you are partnering with a team that brings over 350 combined years of legal experience. We have served over 84,000 clients since 2002, earning a reputation for reliable and effective legal representation. Our client-focused approach ensures personalized legal solutions tailored to your unique situation. Additionally, we were honored with the 2023 Corporate America Today Award for Best Attorney of the Year, highlighting our commitment to excellence.

Speak With the North Carolina Self Defense Lawyers at King Law

If you end up in court having to prove you acted lawfully in defending yourself, the State has the burden to prove you did not act in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. All of the above examples and similar situations would likely boil down to an issue for the jury to decide. In any situation like this, call 911 if possible and only use as much force as you absolutely have to confront the situation.

If you have questions about legitimate ways you can defend yourself under North Carolina criminal laws, give us a call for a consultation to discuss your rights. Our team is located across North and South Carolina. To talk to a member of our team anywhere in the Carolinas, call 888-748-KING (5464)

Legally reviewed by:
King Law
Carolina Attorneys
June 16, 2024

This blog post has been reviewed and verified by legal experts at King Law. Our team is dedicated to providing premium legal services with compassion, innovation, trust, and advocacy. Serving Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, we offer flexible meeting options and strive to exceed client expectations with high-quality legal representation and exceptional client relationships.

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