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Criminal Law » Sentencing and Defences » Self Defence

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Self Defence

Self defence is provided for in section 418 of the Crimes Act 1914. To successfully raise self defence, the following must be established:

  1. that the accused believed that their conduct was necessary to defend themself or another; and,
  2. what the accused did was a reasonable response in the circumstances as perceived by the accused.

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The court looks at what the accused person believed as well as the situation as they perceived it. The court will also consider whether the response of the accused was reasonable.  Whether the response was reasonable is a completely objective assessment, however the circumstance as perceived by the accused are considered. Often, although an accused can establish that they believed that they did what was necessary to defend themselves, the court will find that their response was excessive in the circumstances and will find their actions were not in self-defence.

Once self defence is sufficiently raised by an accused, the prosecution must disprove it beyond reasonable doubt.