People have the right to defend themselves when they are attacked or they feel in danger, this is known as self-defense. Every state, including Illinois, has different laws that define what self-defense means. Some states have broader laws like the famous stand your ground law in Florida. In Illinois, you can use reasonable force to defend yourself or someone else, or to defend your home or other property.
In each case the following conditions must exist to justify the use of force:
- There was imminent danger or threat to you, someone else, or your property;
- The threat was unlawful;
- You believed that a danger existed that required force; and
- You used force that was equal to the threat.
You cannot claim self-defense if you are the aggressor. You also cannot overreact, or act unreasonably, in defending yourself.
There are 2 levels of force under the stand your ground law:
- Regular force: Force that prevents someone from moving or acting normally and
- Deadly force: Force that causes or is intended to cause serious bodily harm or death
You can use regular force to defend against an attack or entry into a home. You can also use regular force to defend against someone trespassing on or interfering with any other type of property.
If you’re defending yourself or someone else, you can use deadly force if you believe it’s necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another person.
When you are defending yourself or someone else, or stopping someone from trespassing on or criminally interfering with other property, deadly force is also allowed to prevent a forcible felony such as:
- Sexual assault
Finally, you can use deadly force to prevent an assault or threat of violence against yourself or someone else in a home or other building, but only if you use it against someone who is trying to enter in a violent manner. This can be difficult to prove.