What happens if you kill someone in self-defense?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At first glance, Kentucky law on self-defense seems clear cut.
It is justified to use force if you believe you have to protect yourself against an assailant. Even deadly force can be used to protect yourself from death, serious injury, kidnapping or rape.
However, don’t expect self-defense to keep you from being charged with a crime.
”The statute’s very broad, but my experience has been the courts interpret that provision of the law very strictly,” Louisville defense attorney Thomas Clay said. “That’s what the statute is designed to do, is have a person who is involved in a violent episode like this to not be prosecuted. But courts have been very restrictive in allowing that defense to prevail.”
Clay said, in his experience, a claim of self-defense rarely prevents prosecution and you will need evidence to defend yourself in court.
If it sounds confusing, that’s because it is, and not just for the defendant.
“Kentucky’s self-defense laws are convoluted,” Louisville defense attorney Brian Butler said. “They’re incredibly difficult for a jury to understand.”
Butler explained if you kill someone and claim self-defense, you can still face a murder charge. Prosecutors, however, would then have to prove you did not really believe your life was in danger. If not a murder charge, you could still go to prison for lesser charges like manslaughter or reckless homicide.
”So this becomes incredibly difficult to explain to a jury in self-defense,” Butler said, “how all these things are intertwined and how they work.”
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