(redirected from self-defensive)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


defence of one's person (or depending on the context, other persons or property) against criminal charges or tortious or delictual claims. In English law self-defence is a defence to criminal charges. The defence can be of persons other than oneself Defence of property is also sufficient. Only such force as is necessary may be used.

In the criminal law of Scotland, a special defence of which notice must be given that can justify homicide or assault. There must be fear to life or a fear of rape. There should be no possibility of escape, and the defence must not itself amount to cruel excess, as where a punch is answered with a dagger blow. The concept has recently been applied in relation to BREACH OF THE PEACE. In the law of tort and delict, self-defence is a defence against a civil action for assault. See also PROVOCATION.

SELF-DEFENCE, crim. law. The right to protect one's person and property from injury.
     2. It will be proper to consider, 1. The extent of the right of self- defence. 2. By whom it may be exercised. 3. Against whom. 4. For what causes.
     3.-1. As to the extent of the right, it may be laid down, first, that when threatened violence exists, it is the duty of the person threatened to use all, prudent and precautionary measures to prevent the attack; for example, if by closing a door which was usually left open, one could prevent an attack, it would be prudent, and perhaps the law might require, that it should be closed, in order to preserve the peace, and the aggressor might in such case be held to bail for his good behaviour; secondly, if, after having taken such proper precautions, a party should be assailed, he may undoubtedly repel force by force, but in most instances cannot, under the pretext that he has been attacked, use force enough to kill the assailant or hurt him after he has secured himself from danger; as, if a person unarmed enters a house to commit a larceny, while there he does not threaten any one, nor does any act which manifests an intention to hurt any one, and there are a number of persons present, who may easily secure him, no one will be justifiable to do him any injury, much less to kill him; he ought to be secured and delivered to the public authorities. But when an attack is made by a thief under such circumstances, and it is impossible to ascertain to what extent he may push it, the law does not requite the party assailed to weigh with great nicety the probable extent of the attack, and he may use the most violent means against his assailant, even to the taking of his life. For homicide may be excused, se defendendo, where a man has no other probable means of preserving his life from one who attacks him, while in the commission of a felony, or even on a sudden quarrel, he beats him, so that he is reduced to this inevitable necessity. Hawk. bk. 2, c. 11, s. 13. And the reason is that when so reduced, he cannot call to his aid the power of society or of the commonwealth, and, being unprotected by law, he reassumes his natural rights, which the law sanctions, of killing his adversary to protect himself. Toull. Dr. Civ. Fr. liv. 1, tit. 1, n. 210. See Pamph. Rep. of Selfridge's Trial in 1806 2 Swift's Ev. 283.
     4.-2. The party attacked may undoubtedly defend himself, and the law further sanctions the mutual and reciprocal defence of such as stand in the near relations of husband and wife, patent and child, and master and servant. In these cases, if the party himself, or any of these his relations, be forcibly attacked in their person or property, it is lawful for him to repel force by force, for the law in these cases respects the passions of the human mind, and makes, it lawful in him, when external violence is offered to himself, or to those to whom he bears so near a connexion, to do that immediate justice to which he is prompted by nature, and which no prudential motives are strong enough to restrain. 2 Roll. Ab. 546; 1 Chit. Pr. 592.
     5.-3. The party making the attack may be resisted, and if several persons join in such attack they may all be resisted, and one may be killed although he may not himself have given the immediate cause for such killing, if by his presence and his acts, he has aided the assailant. See Conspiracy.
     6.-4. The cases for which a man may defend himself are of two kinds; first, when a felony is attempted, and, secondly, when, no felony is attempted or apprehended.
     7.-1st. A man may defend himself, and even commit a homicide for the prevention of any forcible and atrocious crime, which if completed would amount to a felony; and of course under the like circumstances, mayhem, wounding and battery would be excusable at common law. 1 East, P. C. 271; 4 Bl. Com. 180. A man may repel force by force in defence of his person, property or habitation, against any one who manifests, intends, attempts, or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a forcible felony, such as murder, rape, robbery, arson, burglary and the like. In these cases he is not required to retreat, but he may resist, and even pursue his adversary, until he has secured himself from all danger.
     8.-2d. A man may defend himself when no felony has been threatened or attempted; 1. When the assailant attempts to beat another and there is no mutual combat; as, where one meets another and attempts to commit or does commit an assault and battery on him, the person attacked may defend himself; and an offer or, attempt to strike another, when sufficiently near, so that that there is danger, the person assailed may strike first, and is not required to wait until he has been struck. Bull. N. P. 18; 2 Roll. Ab. 547. 2. When there is a mutual combat upon a sudden quarrel. In these cases both parties are the aggressors; and if in the fight one is killed it will be manslaughter at least, unless the survivor can prove two things: 1st. That before the mortal stroke was given be had refused any further combat, and had retreated as far as he could with safety; and 2d. That he killed his adversary from necessity, to avoid his own destruction.
     9. A man may defend himself against animals, and he may during the attack kill them, but not afterwards. 1 Car. & P. 106; 13 John. 312; 10 John. 365.
     10. As a general rule no man is allowed to defend himself with force if he can apply to the law for redress, and the law gives him a complete remedy, See Assault; Battery; Necessity; Trespass.

References in periodicals archive ?
21) However, although other States provided military and other assistance to the UIC, (22) which could have probably amounted to intervention under Article 2(7) of the Charter, such conduct cannot, of itself, justify a self-defensive response since such assistance does not constitute an "armed attack" by the other assisting States.
Its opposition to the policy of extended nuclear deterrence--the practice of nuclear-weapon states' providing nuclear umbrellas to their non-nuclear-weapon allies--attests to the self-defensive nature of that policy.
118) This conclusion suggests that granting states additional latitude in determining to use self-defensive force against a perceived imminent threat would not necessarily lead to more warfare.
In the case of battered women she notes that in even the worst cases, the abuse (prior to the use of defensive force) did not amount to an actual threat of death, thus she seeks to limit the use of self-defensive force.
On Robinson's interpretation of the reasons view, it follows that Alice lacks a justification for her self-defensive actions.
His second chapter, 'Two Kinds of Emigration', lucidly demonstrates that the often tasteless and self-defensive dispute between the inner emigres such as Thiess and emigrants such as Thomas Mann nevertheless represented some sort of (albeit entrenched) confrontation with the question of the moral responsibility of the writer under Nazism.
Despite the ravages of the 1980s, we still have our flagship centres of learning and culture and our wonderful buildings' but somehow their backdrop is now more self-defensive, more openly unaccommodating of new ideas and of the give-and-take of modern life.
In that sense there is an essential symmetry: the nature and scope of the right of self-defense is determined by the burdens of self-restraint that it is reasonable for individuals to bear, both as potential actors in self-defense and as potential targets of self-defensive action.
But when the secularizing momentum of the modern removes the sacred canopy and imperils the mediations, religion in a self-defensive act can transform the mediations into its very contents.
The combination of both a light and a red dot really increases the nighttime handiness of the KP345 as a self-defensive firearm.
Approximately one-third of those reported the aggression as self-defensive measures, one-third as mutual aggression, and another one-third as both mutual and self-defensive.
Credit writer-helmer Daniel Taplitz ("Commandments') for achieving a degree of Feydeau-like complexity in a scenario rife with misread signals, rash assumptions, self-defensive feints and self-serving deceits.