If caught in a violent situation, you may have to use force to protect yourself or escape the situation. While you know you had no other choice, it is still possible to face charges. If you have domestic violence charges against you, you may have a self-defense argument.
According to the Illinois General Assembly, justifiable use of force is an affirmative defense.
Acting in response to danger
Use force against another person in self-defense if you feel the action necessary to save yourself from the unlawful force. For self-defense to be valid, you have to have a reasonable belief of danger and your actions have to match the fear. You can only use self-defense to cause great bodily harm or death if you had reason to fear the same outcome from the assailant.
Acting with honest intentions
To prove self-defense, your intent matters. A person cannot provoke a fight to use self-defense as an excuse to cause harm to another person. Generally, if a person provokes the use of force, he or she cannot claim self-defense. However, if the other person’s use of force is dangerous enough that you fear for your life or if the attack may cause death or great bodily harm, you can use force to defend yourself.
If you find yourself in a fight but withdraw from all physical contact and inform your assailant you do not want to fight, the assailant cannot continue to attack you. If he or she continues the fight, you can defend yourself with force.
In addition to the defense of yourself, you can also defend another person’s life with physical force.