What is Self-Defence?

The law recognises that persons, in certain circumstances act in a way to protect themselves, property or another person. The defence of self-defence, if established, provides a complete defence to a criminal charge as a person is not criminally responsible for an offence if the person carried out the conduct in self-defence, or the defence of another or to protect property from unlawful taking, damage, destruction or interference.

A defence of self-defence is available only if an accused believed that their conduct was necessary to act in self-defence, or defence of another person or property and that the accused’s conduct was a reasonable response in the circumstances which they perceived.

How is the Defence of Self-Defence used in Court?

Self-defence can be raised by an accused, or it may arise in the evidence of a particular case generally. There is no need for an accused to give evidence to raise self-defence however the circumstances and tactical approaches of each case need to be carefully considered by an experienced criminal defence lawyer when considering the defence of self-defence. 

Once the defence of self-defence is raised, the prosecution has the onus of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the accused did not carry out the conduct in self-defence by either disproving that the accused believed that their conduct was necessary to defend themselves, others, property or trespass or by proving that the accused’s response was not reasonable in the circumstances as they perceived them.

The law and defence of self-defence is not straight forward, and each case needs to be carefully examined to determine whether self-defence can be raised, and an assessment made as to the likelihood of the defence being established. There is a need to carefully examine all of the circumstances of the offence when assessing an accused’s belief and the reasonableness of their response. It is therefore very important to seek legal advice and representation from one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers in Sydney to assess whether a defence of self-defence can be raised.

Are there Exceptions to the Law of Self-Defence?

There are some instances in which a defence of self-defence cannot be relied upon. For example, the use lethal force merely to protect property or to prevent or remove an intruder is not covered by the defence of self-defence.

In cases of murder, where a court finds that an accused believed that their conduct was necessary to defend themselves, another person or property but that their conduct was not a reasonable response in the circumstances in which he or she perceived them, an accused may be found not guilty of murder but can be found guilty of the offence of manslaughter.

Why Choose Australian Lawyers and Advocates?

If you are facing a criminal charge, our expert defence criminal lawyers in Sydney can help. We will carefully consider your case and provide expert advice on your options. 

Our team of expert criminal defence lawyers in Sydney have a proven track record of securing successful outcomes for our clients in criminal law matters. Our results speak for themselves. 

If you require expert representation in a criminal law matter, don’t delay. Contact our expert criminal defence lawyers in Sydney today.


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