Self defence


The common law defence of self-defence has been extended and to some extent superseded by the statutory defence of public defence under the Criminal Law Act 1967 s3.

Self-defence is just defending yourself or another, whereas the statutory defence deals with the prevention of crime. 

Criminal Law Act 1967 s3:

'A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large' 

There are 2 elements to the defence of self-defence:

Was the force necessary?

  • The use of force is not justified if it is not necessary
  • It is a question for the jury and depends on the circumstances 


Where the defendant has made a mistake about what is happening the jury must decide whether he held a…


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