When is the use of force justifiable in Missouri?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2022 | Violent Crimes |

There are situations when the facts behind a violent act may not be initially apparent. Law enforcement rarely considers violent acts a good enough reason for committing another violent crime. Often, it’s up to a court of law to determine whether an act of force was justifiable at the moment or not. In some cases, a Missourian court can find the use of force as legally justifiable based on the state’s law provisions.

Establishing liability in self-defense cases

According to the revised Missouri Statutes, the use of physical, non-deadly force is justifiable when a person reasonably believes that the unlawful actions of another may harm or damage their property. Similarly, the law may find the use of deadly physical force justifiable when a person believes the acts of another put their life or loved ones at imminent risk.

Missouri also subscribes to the Stand Your Ground law that applies to some states across the country. It states that anyone attacked or threatened at a place where they have a legal right to be can respond in kind by using deadly force if they reasonably believe it necessary to avoid harm to them or loved ones.

Situations that warrant the use of force

While the term “reasonable” varies depending on what a person believes is necessary or appropriate, there are specific felonies that can warrant the use of force. Common situations that warrant the use of force as self-defense include:

  • Murder
  • Carjacking
  • Manslaughter
  • Home invasion and robbery
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Burglary
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Forceful placing, throwing, or discharging of a destructive bomb or device

In some cases of aggravated battery and sexual battery, a person may be within their legal right to use force to protect themselves, provided they can prove they are suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome. This condition prevents domestic violence victims from leaving their abusers.

Exceptions to the rule on the use of force

The use of deadly or non-deadly force is not justifiable for those attempting to commit a crime. If you’re the aggressor, you can only use justifiable force when you’ve explored all other methods to escape or avoid an altercation with another person to no success.

Missourian laws also state that it’s illegal to use force against a law enforcement officer engaging in their duties. However, you may assume the use of force to a reasonable extent if an officer goes against their law provisions, like using excessive force to arrest you when cooperating.

When facing a serious felony, it’s essential to understand the facts of your case. In Missouri, this is how courts judge the use of force as a self-defense mechanism.