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Can you cite self-defense after having used a gun?

The term “self-defense” is seemingly brought up so often in criminal cases that you and others in Clarksville may give no credence to it all. Yet are there situations where the use of force (including using a gun) is indeed legally justified? The problem with citing self-defense as a defense to prosecution is that many may view your definition of being in danger as subjective. Others may try and portray you as being “trigger happy” by the mere fact that you own a gun. It is a good thing, then, that Tennessee state law clearly defines the scenarios where self-defense is justified.

Tennessee’s laws on self-defense state that you have no duty to retreat from a situation before using (or threatening to use) force to protect yourself from force being used against you. In justifying the use of such force, it must be proven that:

  •          You had a reasonable belief that you were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury
  •          The threat causing your belief of such a danger was real (or believed to be real at the time)
  •          Your fear of danger was founded on reasonable grounds

Furthermore, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-11-611(b) (as shared by the website for the Tennessee State Courts) states that you cannot be charged or convicted of displaying or using a firearm as means of protection in a verifiable self-defense scenario, or in coming to the aid of another during the commission of a crime.

You should remember, however, that once the threat to your safety or that of others is over (or least when a reasonable person would believe it to be so), your right to use force ends. This should deter you from pursuing any persons or parties that may have threatened or attempted to attack you. 

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