Virginia Self Defense and Use of Force Laws, Defense of Excessive Police Use of Force

Virginia Law of Self Defense

Virginia law protects the use of reasonable and proportional force to defend life, limb, and property. This right extends to individuals and to those they seek to protect (third parties). Virginia recognizes justifiable and excusable self-defense.

Self-defense, however, is not summarized in a statue or through a simple equation. Instead, self-defense is defined broadly by Virginia courts as the amount of force used to defend oneself that is not excessive and is reasonable in relation to the perceived threat. This means that judgment as to whether the use of force was reasonable will be determined on a case-by-case basis, ex-post-facto. 

Virginia police and prosecutors will decide whether to charge someone who used force in self-defense. They will evaluate each case based on physical evidence, eyewitness observations, and statements made by the person claiming self-defense. Unfortunately, firearm owners in Virginia frequently find themselves charged with brandishing, manslaughter or even murder when law enforcement officers and prosecutors do not believe self-defense was a valid claim.

As such, self-defense is most commonly used by a criminal defense attorney as an affirmative defense to a criminal charge. Self-defense is used as a defense in the following types of Virginia cases: Murder, Manslaughter, Assault and Battery, Brandishing a Firearm, Disorderly Conduct, Reckless Handling of a Firearm, and Resisting Arrest.