You probably realize that Montana law permits you to use physical force to defend yourself when someone else tries to hurt you.
Despite what the name implies, however, self-defense law doesn’t just protect you if you take actions to defend your own physical well-being.
You can claim self-defense if you step up for someone else
In fact, state law authorizes the use of deadly force, if necessary, when you need to stop someone who poses an imminent risk of severe bodily injury or death to others.
People will claim self-defense if they hit someone else during an attempted assault or robbery or if they use a legal weapon to protect themselves while out in public or even in their own homes. Self-defense claims also often arise during home invasions and burglaries, as well as in any crime where a person feared for their own safety.
However, not every person is mentally or physically capable of protecting themselves from a violent attack. Some people feel so shocked or frightened during an assault that they freeze up and can barely move or think. Other people may want to act but might be infirm, very young, very aged or just smaller than the assailant. They could be fit and healthy but unarmed.
You don’t have to know the person involved to engage in the use of force to protect another person. The only thing necessary is a sincere belief that the other person will come to serious harm if you do not intervene.
What if you’re arrested after an act of self-defense
Being a Good Samaritan and saving someone from an act of violence might mean that police charge you with a crime. Discussing what led up to the alleged criminal incident with your defense counsel can help you plan for your defense against those pending charges.