How Can You Prove Self-Defense if There Were No Other Witnesses to a Crime?
In Indiana, as in every state, the law recognizes that you have the right to self-defense. Indiana’s Stand Your Ground law states that a person may use reasonable force to defend themselves or another person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force.
Taking this defense a step further, Indiana’s “Castle Doctrine” permits a person to use force against an illegal intruder in their home, even if there was no evidence that they reasonably believed the intruder would have physically injured them.
Therefore, you may be able to avoid an assault, battery, or even a murder conviction if you can show that you used force to protect yourself or another person from immediate and severe harm, or in defense of your property.
But what happens if no one else witnessed the incident? Can you still succeed on a self-defense claim?
Short answer– yes. It is possible to make a successful self-defense claim without eyewitnesses, although it’s more challenging. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
Elements of a Self-Defense Claim
To win a self-defense claim, your attorney must prove that:
- you somewhere that you had a right to be
- you didn’t instigate, provoke, or participate willingly in the violence
- you acted in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm
Eye witness testimony is usually critical to proving the second and third elements. However, if no third parties were present, you will likely have to testify in your defense at trial, and your attorney will have to present other types of evidence to support your claim. For example, your attorney may recover evidence from surveillance videos, testimony from witnesses who were at the scene before or after the incident, or forensic evidence that supports your claim and shows that your actions were reasonable.
If your attorney can provide sufficient evidence to supports your self-defense claim, the State then has the burden of disproving one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. They may also argue that you were committing a crime when the incident occurred or trying to make a getaway from a crime scene. Indiana law does not recognize a self-defense claim under such circumstances.
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Indiana but acted in self-defense, contact the criminal defense lawyers of Razumich & Associates right away. We stand ready to fight for your rights.