What is Reasonable Use of Force?

When Defending Myself Against someone, What is Considered “Reasonable Force?”

Eye Gouge Self DefenseWhen defending yourself, what is considered “Reasonable” when applying force? Great question! Seems that every time I talk about self-defense, I get many questions and comments concerning liability about using force against an attacker. My best answer is: Do what you have to do to repel the attack and escape safely. No one will fault you for protecting yourself, as long it is considered “Reasonable.”

What is Reasonable?

Let me ask you this:  Would you shoot someone if they were just yelling threats at you with no other actions on the offenders part? I hope not. Now, if the attacker was actively attempting to inflict serious bodily injury with or without a weapon, would that justify a higher level of defending force from you? I hope so. I don’t think anyone would fault you for protecting yourself appropriately if that happened, do you agree?

Again, What is defined as “Reasonable”?

Well, from many court cases arising from people using force there has been certain court standards made to define reasonable use of force. Each situation is unique and individualized. However there are tests and standards used in this decision, they are:

The reasonable person (Officer) test (summarized): 1) Judged from the perspective of a reasonable person. 2) Examined through the eyes of a person on the scene at the time the force was applied, not the 20/20 vision of hindsight. 3) Based on the facts and circumstances confronting the person without regard to the person’s underlying intent or motivation. 4) Based on the knowledge that the person acted properly under the established law at the time.

As you can see, it is general and vague. However, it allows consideration to your specific situation and actions. For police officers (which are held at a higher standard), the law doesn’t allow for any hindsight 20/20 but for what the facts that lead up to the use of force and if the “person” acting appropriately to the situation they are faced at the time.

So in end state, Do what you have to do to survive the situation. Don’t paralyze yourself with the what if’s. Get all the training you can get. Knowledge is power! Most importantly, be safe!

If you are a victim of a crime, Report it Immediately! Get it documented.

Disclaimer:  This post is not, in any way, to be considered to be legal advise or construed as legal advise. This writer of this article is not an attorney and is not acting in the capacity of an attorney. All legal advice should be consulted by an attorney practicing law in your appropriate state. This is for discussion only.


California Police Officer Standards and Testing (P.O.S.T.) on Use of Force


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