Self-Defense Laws in Connecticut

Armed resident ready to protect themselves against robber

Self-defense is one of the most common defenses to charges of assault and battery. It is an affirmative defense, which means you acknowledge that you committed the allegedly criminal acts but are telling the court your use of force was justified to protect yourself, others, or your property from harm. To succeed within these self-defense laws, you must show that you were threatened with harm, did not provoke the attack, and were unable to retreat or otherwise remove yourself from the situation.

Understanding Connecticut Self-Defense Laws

In Connecticut’s self-defense laws, a person can use force to defend themselves or another person who is in imminent threat of physical harm or to defend their property.

Self-Defense and Defense of Others

When claiming self-defense, the defendant acknowledges they used force in a way that would otherwise have been illegal. But they claim their use of force was justified to defend themselves or someone else against what they believed to be an imminent use of force. To be successful, the defendant can only use the degree of force they believed to be reasonably necessary.

In the 1984 decision of State v. DeJesus, the Connecticut Supreme Court set forth the test for determining whether a person was justified in using force and the amount of force that was necessary. Whether a person was justified in using force to defend themselves or their property is a question of fact that focuses on what the defendant reasonably believed under the circumstances. When analyzing the degree of force used, the jury must view the situation from the defendant’s perspective and must decide whether the defendant’s belief that their use of force was justified was reasonable.

Use of Deadly Force

A defendant can use deadly force if they reasonably believe the attacker is using or is about to use deadly force. A defendant is not justified in using deadly force if they know they can avoid doing so by:

  • Retreating, except from their own home or office in cases where the defendant was not the original aggressor;
  • Surrendering possession of property the aggressor claims to own; or
  • Obeying a demand that they not take an action they are not otherwise required to take.

Defense of Property

Connecticut’s self-defense laws also allows a person to use force to defend their home or property. A person is justified in using reasonable force to prevent a criminal trespass to their home or to prevent a theft, larceny, or destruction of their property or someone else’s property. Deadly force generally cannot be used in these circumstances.

Stand-Your-Ground and the Duty to Retreat

Connecticut has a limited stand-your-ground law that applies in very specific circumstances. Unless you are in your home or office, you have a duty to retreat if you can safely do so without risk of harm to yourself or others. However, you do not have a duty to retreat and can stand your ground if:

  • You reasonably believe you are faced with deadly force (regardless of whether the assailant was armed with a weapon)
  • A trespasser has entered your home or office and you reasonably believe deadly force is necessary to prevent the trespasser from committing arson or a violent crime
  • You reasonably believe the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent an unlawful entry into your home or office by force

These are the only situations in which a defendant can stand their ground and does not have a duty to retreat.

Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm for Defense Against Charges of Assault and Battery

Claiming self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property as an affirmative defense to charges of assault and battery is highly technical. If you have been charged with assault and battery, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible about self-defense laws.

Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, criminal defense attorney Stephen Lebedevitch has been defending people accused of crimes throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties since 2011.

To learn more, contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation. Call (203) 307-5760, email, or complete the online contact form.