Idaho Criminal Defense and DUI Defense Blog

Understanding Self Defense in Idaho

Posted by Christi Schofield | Dec 05, 2022 | 0 Comments

Idaho Self Defense

What is Self Defense in Idaho?

Self defense is an affirmative defense against a violent crime. This means the defendant admits to doing the violent act but argues there was a legal justification for it. 

The attorneys at Schofield Young PLLC understand how challenging it is to be facing criminal charges in Idaho. Is self defense the appropriate defense for you? The specific requirements and restrictions to apply self defense in criminal cases can vary between states. Some common concepts are explained below, and by calling us at 208-344-0128, we can explain more during a free consultation. 

Imminent Threat

Self defense usually requires the defendant to be in fear of immediate harm. This harm could be a verbal or actual threat of physical harm, but offensive words alone are not enough. Once the threat ends, the harm is no longer imminent, and the defendant cannot rely on self defense. 

Reasonable Fear of Harm

The defendant's fear of harm must also be reasonable. To assess this, the jury considers whether an ordinary and reasonable person in the same situation would have also believed there was an imminent threat of harm. If the answer is no, then self defense does not apply.

Proportionate Response

The defendant's use of force cannot be excessive; it must be proportionate to the threat. For example, if a victim raises their hand to slap a defendant and the defendant shoots at them, this would be an excessive response. For lethal force to be proportionate and therefore justified, the defendant usually must be in fear of death. 

One specific type of case where proportionate response is key is in a domestic dispute. If a spouse or someone with whom you're in a dating relationship extends a push, an aggressive punch in response would probably not be proportionate.  

Duty to Retreat

Some states require a defendant to attempt to escape the harm before resorting to force. Under the duty to retreat, a defendant must demonstrate they had no other choice but to use force. Idaho does not have this duty, so a person need not retreat from any place that person has a right to be in the exercise of self defense of self or others.

What if You Incorrectly Use Force to Protect Yourself or Another?

Idaho requires a reasonable belief that there was an imminent danger at the time or that the force was necessary to prevent the harm. Under Idaho Code 19-202A, “The defense of self or of another does not require a person to wait until he or she ascertains whether the danger is apparent or real. A person confronted with such danger has a clear right to act upon appearances such as would influence the action of a reasonable person.” This means that if the acting person reasonably believes they or another person are in danger, even if incorrect, self defense can still be justified. 

Defense of Property in Idaho

In Idaho, a person may only use force in defend property but they may only use an amount of force reasonably necessary to prevent the threatened injury. Reasonableness is to be judged from the viewpoint of a reasonable person placed in the same position and seeing and knowing what the defendant then saw and knew. Any use of force beyond that limit is unjustified. 

Contact us for a free consultation

By calling Schofield Young PLLC at 208-344-0128 and scheduling a free consultation, we can further explain whether self defense is an appropriate tool for defending against criminal charges in Ada County, Canyon County, and others. 

About the Author

Christi Schofield

Christi represents clients in a wide range of criminal law matters in the Treasure Valley and surrounding areas


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