Is self-defense legal in Minnesota?

There is no way to be fully prepared for an unexpected attack or incident of violence. When a Minnesota resident is faced with imminent harm and the possibility of death or serious injury, they may react and choose to fight to protect themselves. This form of response is often called self-defense, and, in some jurisdictions, it is a permissible defense to accusations of assault and other violent crimes.

Different states have different laws regarding the permissible use of self-defense in assault cases. This post will discuss how Minnesota views self-defense and when it may legally be pleaded by a criminal defendant. As with all the other posts on this blog, the contents of this article should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any individual who is facing criminal charges related to assault or other crimes has the right to seek the counsel and representation of knowledgeable Minnesota-based criminal defense attorneys.

Defining self-defense in Minnesota

The use of self-defense in Minnesota is limited to instances when using force is reasonable to prevent a greater harm. For example, a person may use a reasonable amount of force to protect themselves or someone else from an attack. Similarly, self-defense may be used to prevent a trespass, to detain a criminal, or two restrain an individual who is using the transportation services of a common carrier.

Reasonableness may be defined based on the facts of a particular situation. A person charged with assault may discussed their use of self-defense with their criminal defense attorney in order to prepare a pleading that demonstrates the reasonable actions they took. What is reasonable in individual self-defense cases will vary based on the circumstances of those situations.

Why self-defense matters to criminal defendants

It is sometimes forgotten that criminal trials have two sides. Prosecutors are tasked with building criminal cases against individuals who they believe broke the law. Those charged, however, may also prepare their own arguments to refute the claims made by the prosecutors in their cases.

Self-defense is an effective defense tool that assault defendants may use to overcome or mitigate their charges. It may not apply in all assault cases, but for those who can use it, it may be beneficial. A criminal defense attorney can counsel their assault clients on whether self-defense or other defensive strategies are applicable in their cases.