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What is Self Defense in Criminal Law in Brainerd, MN

by | Oct 3, 2020 | Criminal Defense, Firm News

In Minnesota, the use of self-defense usually becomes necessary to protect yourself from another person who is threatening assault.

This also applies when someone is intent on physically harming an individual in some manner, such as in a home break-in. An individual can use self-defense techniques to not only protect their body, but also stop the imminent attack.

As experienced Criminal Defense lawyers in Brainerd, MN, we will help you learn more about what self-defense is and isn’t.

What Is Self-Defense in Brainerd, Minnesota?

Typically, a person will have to defend themselves against physical harm through the use of force to ensure the safety of their own body or that of a loved one’s. In situations like these, self-defense takes place when such force is used against the attacker/perpetrator of violence.

In short, the need for self-defense arises when another person tries to cause bodily harm. While the circumstances may not warrant lethal force, the act of self-defense can lead to death if there is no other way to defend against potential severe harm or death. If death does take place, the self-defending individual may have to legally defend their actions.

Proving Self-Defense in Brainerd, Minnesota

Self-defense is among the most commonly used defenses in cases related to assault, battery, and some other violent crimes.

In order to prove self-defense in the state of Minnesota, the accused must prove:

  • The alleged victim was the attacker
  • The accused believed a real or perceived fear of physical harm was upon them
  • The accused’s belief was reasonable
  • The accused did not provoke the attack or display aggression
  • There was no reasonable opportunity to escape the attack by the alleged victim

It is important to remember that self-defense claims come with certain limitations. The use of force, even if it is for self-defense, should be acknowledged as reasonable by the judge/jury. Moreover, an individual can use only that amount of force which is necessary to deter the attack or protect themselves. Hence, the amount of force used must be in accordance with the threat of harm.

Use of Reasonable Force

In Minnesota, an individual facing potential assault or physical danger has four elements that enable them to exercise their right of self-defense. These are:

i.  The aggressive behavior of the other person

ii. The belief of imminent danger or physical harm

iii. Grounds for this belief

iv. Possibility that the danger is avoidable

The threatened individual can use varying degrees of self-defense against their attacker. If escaping the attacker is possible, the individual can avoid the use of self-defense altogether. In fact, this may prove to be the best course of action to avoid legal repercussions.

Mentioned ahead are the situations when an individual may use reasonable force:

  • Resisting or helping another person fight an offense against the person
  • Preventing an intrusion or other illegal interference with property
  • Foiling the escape of a person held by law on a charge or conviction of a crime
  •  A parent/guardian/teacher exercising necessary authority over a child/student
  •  A common carrier against a passenger who does not comply with lawful requirements for proper conduct
  • Restraining a person with mental illness or developmental issues from self-harm or causing injury to others

Duty to Retreat

In Minnesota, the law imposes a duty to retreat before an individual can use self-defense outside of their own house.

According to this law, if an individual is facing a threat of bodily harm or physical injury, they should first try to retreat to a safe location. Retreat refers to any attempt to scale back or avoid a hostile altercation. If retreating is not a possibility or is unsafe, they may use force or act in self-defense.

Further, Minnesota law allows a person to use lethal force outside the home only when there is absolutely no other alternative or no reasonable opportunity to retreat or when they believe that they are in imminent danger of serious physical harm.

An individual who uses lethal force in self-defense may face criminal charges, including murder, if they had an opportunity to retreat.

Self-Defense during Domestic Assault

In cases where domestic assault is involved, an individual may need to defend themselves from their aggressor. When the aggressor lives in the home, stopping the violence before it becomes life-threatening is crucial.

The victim of domestic assault may be able to protect themselves and/or their loved ones from the aggressor. If using lethal force becomes unavoidable, the victim should contact an experienced Criminal Defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN and discuss their circumstances/facts to build a case, should they be charged with committing a crime by law authorities.

Self-Defense Is Not Criminal Defense

Minnesota laws allow people to defend themselves against imminent threats of assault or grave physical danger. However, anyone using self-defense needs to meet certain conditions to prove that force was used to protect themselves or defend another rather than to harm the aggressor.

If criminal charges are levied against the individual, he or she will have to prove that the situation involved self-defense through sufficient evidence.

Self-defense situations also require certain actions to be taken, depending on the way the incident took place. For instance, if the individual is not in their home, they need to try and retreat rather than retaliate with force. If the individual did not retreat but responded with an attack, they may have to face a potential conviction.

To defend these charges, you will have to explain what transpired and may need the assistance of an experienced Criminal Defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN. Your attorney will know exactly how to present your case and the arguments as well as evidence to support your claim.


More often than not, when an aggressor threatens assault or severe physical harm, an individual can use self-defense to protect themselves from being attacked. Sometimes, self-defense may be used to protect another person or a loved one. The individual can tackle the aggressor and keep others safe depending on the situation. If self-defense goes wrong, it can lead to criminal charges and conviction. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is best to consult an experienced Criminal Defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN to find the most suitable defenses and receive justice.

Consult Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers in Brainerd, MN Today

Understanding what self-defense is and how it can land you in legal trouble is more complex than you think. Several factors and limitations come into play. If you have a case and need legal advice with it, call the qualified criminal defense attorneys at Carlson & Jones, P.A. on 855-762-6548 . You can also contact us online through our website. We will get back to you at the earliest.