Many in Maryland might find it difficult to not view a claim of self-defense with anything but skepticism. That likely comes from the idea that such an assertion is simply too convenient given the context. Yet it is that very context that may indeed justify one’s actions in a very dangerous situation.
Most can likely envision a scenario in which they may feel compelled to react with defensive action. The point to consider, however, is which of those scenarios does the law officially recognizes. Such is the question that many pose to our team here at Raquin Mercer LLC.
“Stand Your Ground”
Most states follow one of two legal philosophies when considering the matter of self-defense. The first is a principle known as “Stand Your Ground.” This enables one to use defensive action (often even up to the point of lethal action) to defend themselves or others in any situation in which they feel threatened. Exactly where the law justifies them in using this action is not defined; it need only be scenarios in which they believe a credible threat exists.
The other is “the Castle Doctrine.” This limits the right to act in self-defense to threats encountered in one’s home, personal vehicle or place of business.
Maryland’s self-defense law
While many states spell out their stances on self-defense statutorily, Maryland does not. Rather, the state’s policy on self-defense comes from a landmark local Supreme Court ruling. It requires one to prove the following elements to successfully claim self-defense:
- That they had reasonable grounds to fear suffering death or serious bodily injury at the hands of another
- That they were not the aggressor in a conflict
- That the only used defensive force up to the extent the situation called for
The law even permits lethal force should the situation demand it.