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When is the use of force justified?

Claims of self-defense made by those charged with violent crimes in Hazlehurst are often immediately met with skepticism. Yet like most, you can probably think of situations where you would justifiably act against another to defend yourself, those that you love, and/or your property. The question is does the law actually allow that? 

Mississippi has followed the example of many states in adopting its own "stand your ground" law. Section 97-3-15 of the state's Criminal Code says that you are under no obligation to retreat from a situation in which the use of force (even deadly force) may be required to defend yourself or others provided that the following conditions are met: 

  • You were not the initial aggressor of the altercation
  • You were not engaged in criminal activity at the time
  • You were in a place where you were legally allowed to be

Furthermore, Mississippi state law also says that deadly force may be justified in other situations. These include situations where you react to someone attempting to kill or commit any other felony against you or others, or against any dwelling, occupied vehicle or place of business in your immediate vicinity. The standard that must be met is for you to have reasonably feared death or seriously bodily harm being inflicted on you or others. The law views this standard as having been met in cases where one was unlawfully and forcibly trying to enter your home, car or place of business, or attempting to unlawfully and forcibly remove you or another from any such place. 

The use of force is not viewed as being justified, however, when the one against whom you use it has a right to be in the place where the altercation occurred. 

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