eli5: Why is self-defense against sexual assault criminalized? (Law)



I genuinely wonder what goes in the mind of a judge who says underage girls who resort to killing their abusers should deserve long-ass jailtimes. What else do they think they should’ve done, keep being abused by them? or possess the fine ability to only impair someone’s physical power without really killing them? and why is hard to make a law that makes it okay to execute rapists?

In: Other

Is this referencing a specific case? It’s certainly not a widely held belief.

Self defense is only a defense if the act was necessary at the moment and only if minimal necessary force was used. If it was deemed that the victim used excessive force or that they acted beyond the scope of an assault, then they are responsible for committing a crime.

It depends on the circumstances of the killing, if it were during the act of abuse and the person had a reasonable fear for their life, then self defense is justified. Being a victim of abuse and then deciding to shoot them in their sleep (for example) is not self defense, it is extra-judicial homicide, especially if an option would be to get help, call police, etc. Basically Justice is to be left to the Courts.

As for Capital punishment for rapists, I guess that comes down to your view on Capital Punishment in general. Most of the World, and most States, feel that is not justified for any crime, even Murder.

This is a very controversial topic.

In Anglo-American common law, before you can claim self defense, you first have to show that you satisfied what’s called the “duty to retreat”. That means you tried your best to run away from the violent attacker but simply couldn’t (this doesn’t apply in your own home, on the theory that you don’t have anywhere else to run to).
If your back is almost literally up against a wall and violence must be met with violence for the purposes of self-defense, it must be proportional to the threat posed. That means that if you’re threatened with a punch, it would only be appropriate to punch back, not to kill. In the context of a sexual assault, deadly force would be disproportionate.

There are all sorts of wrinkles, though. Women are sometimes abused for years, with nowhere to go and no belief that anywhere else is safe. There’s a famous case about this called from North Carolina called *State v. Norman*, where a wife was horribly tortured and abused by her husband for years (be careful looking up the details), so the wife finally killed her husband when he was sleeping. The court ruled it was NOT self defense because at the moment of the killing she wasn’t threatened, even though her husband had threatened her constantly and had convinced her she wasn’t safe.

This is called a ‘non-confrontational killing’, and it’s VERY controversial. The law varies from place to place and there are reform efforts trying to change it.

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