970 McHenry Avenue, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC

Call Today for Your FREE Consultation

Call Us800-338-3833 | 815-338-3838

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Self-Defense in Illinois

Posted on in Criminal Law

Castle Doctrine, Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney, self-defense, self-defense laws, defense of propertySelf-defense is, understandably, one of the murkiest topics in criminal law. Judges and the legislature are stuck trying to compromise between complex, competing interests.

On the one hand, it makes sense to have a right to defend oneself from a mugging or other attack, when doing so is necessary. On the other, self-defense laws encourage people to take things into their own hands rather than use the police, who are trained to handle such circumstances. This can lead to unnecessary violence. However, Illinois' self-defense laws are designed to strike a balance between these goals.

Defending People

Illinois has a general rule that covers self-defense when defending people, and another when defending property. When defending themselves, people are allowed to use force to the extent necessary to defend either themselves or another person from a similar amount of force. The law, with regard to defending people, also makes a special rule for the use of deadly force. The law only allows the use of force “which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm” in instances where the person reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent the death or great bodily harm of him or herself or someone else or in the resistance of a forcible felony, such as kidnapping.

This formulation of the law complicates one of the most controversial elements of self-defense laws, whether a defender has a duty to retreat before using deadly force. In some states, people are not allowed to use deadly force if they know that they can escape with complete safety. According to Illinois' jury instructions, that duty does not exist here. However, there have been cases of juries finding that it was not reasonable to believe that the use of deadly force was necessary if a person could have retreated.

Defending Property

The rule for the defense of property is similar to the above. People are allowed to use force that they reasonably believe is necessary to prevent interference with their property. The deadly force exception here is considerably more narrow. A person may only use deadly force to defend property if he or she is resisting a forcible felony. There is one exception to the deadly force rule, which applies to people defending their homes. This exception is known as the Castle Doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine is an expanded right to defense of property and self when a person is in his or her own home. The law does not expect people to surrender their home to criminals, so it expands the allowable use of force there. People are allowed to use deadly force in their own home if someone is violently trying to enter and a person trying to enter intends to assault someone in the home, or if the person in a home reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent a felony.

If you have recently been charged with a crime that you believe was performed in self-defense, contact a Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney today. Our firm is here to make sure the court hears your side of the story.

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
Back to Top