As the debate over gun control continues to rage in the United States, citizens who own guns struggle to keep up with the changing political landscape, and changing laws. The questions are endless. Who can purchase firearms? What type can be purchased? Can I carry a concealed firearm? For many people, the most important questions are those related to the use of deadly force. An Omaha criminal lawyer explains when you can use deadly force to protect yourself in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s Self Defense Statute
Because of the way in which our country is structured, each individual state governs the use of self-defense, and specifically of deadly force, within the state. In Nebraska, Nebraska Revised Statute Section 28-1409 governs the use of self-defense in general. That statute reads, in pertinent part, as follows:
“the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”
Nebraska also allows the use of force to protect another person when the other person would be justified using force under the above statute and you believe the use of force is necessary to protect the person.
When analyzing the elements in the use of force statute, it is particularly important to focus on two of those elements – “immediately necessary” and “present occasion.” The first element, “immediately necessary,” stresses that urgency of the situation when contemplating the use of force. In other words, the law only allows you to use force if you must do so right then or risk injury. The other element, “present occasion,” effectively precludes the use of force if a threat was made on a previous occasion instead of now. For example, imagine that you had an encounter with a neighbor last week during which the neighbor made threats or even pushed you. You then run into him again today; however, today he says and does nothing other than give you the “evil eye.” Because he did not actually do anything today, the use of force would not be allowable.
In addition, anytime force is used, the amount of force used must be proportionate and reasonable. For example, if you find yourself in an altercation and the other party does nothing more than push you, the law would not likely uphold a claim of self-defense if you pulled out a baseball bat and hit the person repeatedly with the bat.
When Can I Use Deadly Force in Nebraska?
The legality of the use of force is one question; however, the use of deadly force requires another level of analysis in most states, including Nebraska. Nebraska does allow you to use deadly force if you believe you are protecting yourself or someone else from death, serious bodily harm, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat.
Is Nebraska a “Stand My Ground” State? Do I Have a Duty to Retreat?
Among the most controversial aspects of the debate over state self-defense laws is the “stand my ground” issue. In legal terms, this is usually referred to as. the “duty to retreat” and applies to situations where retreating would avoid the confrontation. The State of Nebraska does impose a duty to retreat unless you are at your own home or place of work. Even then, you may have a duty to retreat if you were the initial aggressor or you are attacked in your workplace and the assailant also works there.
As you may well imagine, the legality of the use of force, and specifically the use of deadly force, under a claim of self-defense can be a very complex and convoluted analysis. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you were justified in the use of deadly force, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected from the beginning of the investigation.
Contact an Omaha Criminal Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have used deadly force in the State of Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Omaha criminal lawyer immediately about the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Contact an Omaha criminal defense attorney at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer.
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