Is self defense on my own property a defense for criminal mischief?

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Is self defense on my own property a defense for criminal mischief?

I got charged for criminal mischief in defending myself on my own property against girlfriends ex-husband who was told to not come here.

Asked on October 26, 2016 under Criminal Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It's a defense IF he actually attacked you--e.g. punched you, shoved you, pulled a knife or gun on you, etc. If he simply wouldn't leave your property and was orally harassing you or making oral threats not backed up by something physical (like pulling a weapon), then it's not self-defense: it's assault (or in this case, criminal mischief). You can't use self defense against trespassing or oral threats without imminent physical threat or an attack.
Plus:
1) It's not self defense if you provoked or goaded the attack; and
2) It's not self defense if you used more force than was necessary, or continued the fight/using force after he was done fighting.


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