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Should you leave before defending yourself?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | Criminal Law |

If you get involved in a physical altercation, you may claim that it was simply self-defense. The other person started the fight and you had no choice but to finish it. You didn’t want to put yourself in that position, but you reacted when the situation called for it.

However, there are those who will say that you need to try to retreat and escape the situation before resorting to this type of violent behavior. Are you legally obligated to try to avoid a fight if you’re defending yourself, or are you allowed to simply take whatever action you think is necessary? What does the law have to say?

There’s no duty to retreat

As long as you are legally allowed to be in the location where you’re at, you are not obligated to leave that location or retreat in the face of a threat. For instance, if the altercation starts inside a convenience store, you don’t have to leave that store before defending yourself.

In fact, Montana law doesn’t even make it an obligation to contact the authorities first. For example, if someone breaks into your home, there’s absolutely no requirement to call the police before you defend yourself and your property – and your family. You certainly should call the police after the fact, but it is not illegal to defend yourself before doing so.

That doesn’t mean you won’t face arrest, however, the police may not know that you were defending yourself, and they may not have all of the necessary evidence to show what truly occurred. If you’re facing charges, then it’s crucial for you to understand all of your legal defense options.