Self defence
Self defence

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Self defence
  • Self defence
  • Force used to prevent a crime or to apprehend an offender—householder cases
  • Defence of property
  • Asserting self defence

Self defence

Self defence is an absolute defence based on the evidence which can apply in crimes committed by force. Section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (CJIA 2008) was introduced to put a gloss on the common law defence of self defence. Self defence, as a defence where reasonable force has been used, can take the form of:R v Renouf [1986] 2 All ER 449Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, s 76

  1. defence of the person themselves

  2. defence of another personR v Duffy [1967] 1 QB 63 CCA

  3. defence of property

  4. the prevention of crime, andCLA 1967, s 3(1)

  5. the lawful arrest and the apprehension of offendersCLA 1967, s 3(1)

Where force is used in self defence under the statutory defence, it must be reasonable in all the circumstances to have done so. CJIA 2008, s 76(3)

Both reasonableness and necessity are requirements of the common law defence. Palmer v R [1971] 1 All ER 1077

The defence of self-defence has two limbs. The first is whether the defendant genuinely believed that it was necessary to use force to defend him or herself. The second is whether the nature and degree of force used was reasonable in the circumstances.

The defendant must have an honestly held belief that their use of force was necessary and the force used must not be excessive or disproportionate. Reasonable force is force which is proportionate to the threat the defendant honestly believed they faced. The test is a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances as they honestly believe them to

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