If You Kill Someone in Self-Defense Will You Go to Jail?

If you are forced to protect yourself by ending the life of another who exhibits malicious intent to harm you, you will have overcome one of the most daunting challenges a human being can face. Unfortunately, determining whether or not your actions constitute manslaughter or self-defense isn’t always simple.

Of course, you took the necessary actions to protect yourself and possibly a third party, but your assessment must corroborate with the opinions of the police, and if charged, a judge and jury. A Tampa manslaughter defense attorney can help prove your innocence if you are charged with a crime involving self-defense.

Was the Killing Accidental?

A proper assessment of a self-defense case requires a very particular line of questioning, but the most important question is arguably this one: was the killing accidental? Exercising our free will and striking with intent to kill can greatly alter a case. Even if you were defending yourself, if it can be ruled that excessive force was used to protect yourself or the threat of death was not imminent, you could be reasonably charged with manslaughter. Sometimes, an accidental killing doesn’t result in a crime being charged, but the defendant can be sued for negligence if there was civil liability.

Death by Self-Defense

Self-defense killings are not charged as crimes. If you are forced to kill another person in self-defense, you can avoid criminal charges as long as your actions were justified. The defendant must prove that they were in imminent danger to avoid being charged with manslaughter.

The identity and history of the aggressor can also play an important role in a self-defense killing case. In some states, the defendant must prove that they attempted to flee before being forced to kill the aggressor. Stand-your-ground laws allow people to kill others who unlawfully trespass with malicious intent. Whether or not the aggressor was engaged in criminal activity when the killing took place can also affect the outcome of your case.

The Case for Manslaughter

Self-defense can be misinterpreted as manslaughter depending on the situation. Although manslaughter is considered a lesser crime than murder, it still carries a serious penalty and can irreversibly alter people’s perception of you. Manslaughter isn’t planned in advance but results in the death of another. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone is provoked to kill another. For instance, when a parent kills an adult who hurts their child. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone acts in a criminal or reckless way and it results in the death of another. This is usually associated with automobile accidents, especially those involving drunk drivers.

For a free consultation with an experienced manslaughter defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Case Results

Violation of Probation Dismissed

Hillsborough County 04-CF-010147
Show More


The Client arrested for nine counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Providing a False Name to a Law Enforcement Officer, and No Valid Driver’s License. Attorney Anthony Rickman immediately contacted the
Show More


The Client and the Client’s spouse were arrested for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of a Controlled Substance after being stopped by law enforcement in Ybor City for allegedly possessing a pipe
Show More