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Self-Defense Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska

Most people will defend themselves against a threat or crime when the rubber hits the road. It’s a human instinct and, in most cases, a legal right. However, in Nebraska, some innocent people have been charged with a crime when they were simply acting in self-defense against someone committing a crime. If this happened to you, attorney Greg Nelson is here to help. As an experienced Omaha self-defense attorney, he knows how to use this affirmative defense effectively and to his client’s advantage. 

Most people only have a vague idea concerning the legal framework of self-defense and what actions qualify in this defense. Many don’t realize when self-defense can or can’t be used as a defense against criminal charges. Since the successful use of self-defense as a legal defense is based on a unique set of facts and circumstances to a particular case, it is imperative that you hire a seasoned Omaha self-defense attorney who knows how to apply it. 

What Is an Affirmative Defense?

The basis of the United States criminal justice system is that an accused individual is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, it’s the burden of the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime they are charged with. The state does this through a prosecuting attorney. The person accused of the offense doesn’t bear the burden of proving anything.

However, one exception to this rule is the defendant’s use of an affirmative defense. If a defendant uses an affirmative defense, it becomes their job to prove their defense and not the prosecuting attorney’s job to prove they committed the crime they are charged with. 

With an affirmative defense, the dependent asserts that:

  • They engaged in the alleged conduct 

  • But they were legally justified in doing so

By using the affirmative defense of self-defense, the dependent admits that they committed an act of violence against the alleged victim. However, they were also legally justified in being violent because of their self-defense claim.

How Nebraska Defines Self Defense

Each individual state is allowed to define self-defense for itself. In Nebraska, the law that addresses the use of self-defense states as follows:

“The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”

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Defense of Others

Nebraska self-defense laws not only apply to a defendant taking actions to protect themselves but also to use force to protect someone else in danger. Defense on behalf of another person applies when: 

  • The other person would be justified in using force to defend themselves under the law

  • The defendant believed the use of force was necessary to protect the other person

For example, suppose you are in a grocery store and witness a thief grab an elderly man’s wallet out of his hand. When he verbally protests, the thief starts punching him in the gut. So you intervene and physically take the thief down yourself. 

In that case, if you are charged with battery for taking the thief down, the affirmative defense of others applies. Although you weren’t defending yourself, you thought intervening was necessary to defend the elderly man. The man would have been justified in using force to protect himself from the person who hit him, so your actions are also justified.

Use of Deadly Force

Self-defense that reaches the level of using deadly force in Nebraska is also permitted if you think you are protecting yourself or another individual from dying, serious injury, rape, or kidnapping. However, if you could retreat to avoid the danger, deadly force isn’t justified under the law. The one exception is if it is your home or place of work and another person is the first aggressor.

Additionally, Nebraska’s self-defense statutes provide that any time self-defense is used, the amount of force used must be comparable and rational. For instance, suppose someone pushes you, and that’s it. You react to being pushed by stabbing that person three times. In that case, your response was not comparable and rational to the level of aggression you were served. A claim of self-defense likely wouldn’t go far in this case. 

On the other hand, a credible threat can sometimes justify the use of force. Of course, offensive words won’t work to sustain a claim of self-defense if physical force is used. However, if the words create a threat, and you thought the threat was immediate, credible, and serious, you could be justified in the use of force to prevent the threat from becoming a reality.

Suppose someone angrily called you a derogatory name but did nothing else. You can’t shoot them claiming self-defense. However, if someone scowls at you and shouts, “I’m gonna kill you!” and begins coming at you, the use of force as self-defense might be warranted and legal. In that circumstance, the threat of severe danger seemed immediate, credible, and serious.

Self Defense Attorney Serving Omaha

The use of force and a claim of self-defense are all highly fact specific. The courts will use many factors when determining if the use of force was justified when using the affirmative defense of self-defense. If you believe that your use of force was justified, discuss your situation with an experienced Omaha self-defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can help you with an optimal outcome in your charges. Whenever possible, we will use the self-defense route to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We are available 24/7 by phone, or contact us online