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3 definitions found
 for self-defence
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Self-defence \Self`-de*fence"\, n.
     See Self-defense.
     [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

      n 1: the act of defending yourself [syn: self-defense, self-
           defence, self-protection]

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  SELF-DEFENCE, crim. law. The right to protect one's person and property from 
       2. It will be proper to consider, 1. The extent of the right of self-
  defence. 2. By whom it may be exercised. 3. Against whom. 4. For what 
       3.-1. As to the extent of the right, it may be laid down, first, that 
  when threatened violence exists, it is the duty of the person threatened to 
  use all, prudent and precautionary measures to prevent the attack; for 
  example, if by closing a door which was usually left open, one could prevent 
  an attack, it would be prudent, and perhaps the law might require, that it 
  should be closed, in order to preserve the peace, and the aggressor might in 
  such case be held to bail for his good behaviour; secondly, if, after having 
  taken such proper precautions, a party should be assailed, he may 
  undoubtedly repel force by force, but in most instances cannot, under the 
  pretext that he has been attacked, use force enough to kill the assailant or 
  hurt him after he has secured himself from danger; as, if a person unarmed 
  enters a house to commit a larceny, while there he does not threaten any 
  one, nor does any act which manifests an intention to hurt any one, and 
  there are a number of persons present, who may easily secure him, no one 
  will be justifiable to do him any injury, much less to kill him; he ought to 
  be secured and delivered to the public authorities. But when an attack is 
  made by a thief under such circumstances, and it is impossible to ascertain 
  to what extent he may push it, the law does not requite the party assailed 
  to weigh with great nicety the probable extent of the attack, and he may use 
  the most violent means against his assailant, even to the taking of his 
  life. For homicide may be excused, se defendendo, where a man has no other 
  probable means of preserving his life from one who attacks him, while in the 
  commission of a felony, or even on a sudden quarrel, he beats him, so that 
  he is reduced to this inevitable necessity. Hawk. bk. 2, c. 11, s. 13. And 
  the reason is that when so reduced, he cannot call to his aid the power of 
  society or of the commonwealth, and, being unprotected by law, he reassumes 
  his natural rights, which the law sanctions, of killing his adversary to 
  protect himself. Toull. Dr. Civ. Fr. liv. 1, tit. 1, n. 210. See Pamph. Rep. 
  of Selfridge's Trial in 1806 2 Swift's Ev. 283. 
       4.-2. The party attacked may undoubtedly defend himself, and the law 
  further sanctions the mutual and reciprocal defence of such as stand in the 
  near relations of husband and wife, patent and child, and master and 
  servant. In these cases, if the party himself, or any of these his 
  relations, be forcibly attacked in their person or property, it is lawful 
  for him to repel force by force, for the law in these cases respects the 
  passions of the human mind, and makes, it lawful in him, when external 
  violence is offered to himself, or to those to whom he bears so near a 
  connexion, to do that immediate justice to which he is prompted by nature, 
  and which no prudential motives are strong enough to restrain. 2 Roll. Ab. 
  546; 1 Chit. Pr. 592. 
       5.-3. The party making the attack may be resisted, and if several 
  persons join in such attack they may all be resisted, and one may be killed 
  although he may not himself have given the immediate cause for such killing, 
  if by his presence and his acts, he has aided the assailant. See Conspiracy. 
       6.-4. The cases for which a man may defend himself are of two kinds; 
  first, when a felony is attempted, and, secondly, when, no felony is 
  attempted or apprehended. 
       7.-1st. A man may defend himself, and even commit a homicide for the 
  prevention of any forcible and atrocious crime, which if completed would 
  amount to a felony; and of course under the like circumstances, mayhem, 
  wounding and battery would be excusable at common law. 1 East, P. C. 271; 4 
  Bl. Com. 180. A man may repel force by force in defence of his person, 
  property or habitation, against any one who manifests, intends, attempts, or 
  endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a forcible felony, such as 
  murder, rape, robbery, arson, burglary and the like. In these cases he is 
  not required to retreat, but he may resist, and even pursue his adversary, 
  until he has secured himself from all danger. 
       8.-2d. A man may defend himself when no felony has been threatened or 
  attempted; 1. When the assailant attempts to beat another and there is no 
  mutual combat; as, where one meets another and attempts to commit or does 
  commit an assault and battery on him, the person attacked may defend 
  himself; and an offer or, attempt to strike another, when sufficiently near, 
  so that that there is danger, the person assailed may strike first, and is 
  not required to wait until he has been struck. Bull. N. P. 18; 2 Roll. Ab. 
  547. 2. When there is a mutual combat upon a sudden quarrel. In these cases 
  both parties are the aggressors; and if in the fight one is killed it will 
  be manslaughter at least, unless the survivor can prove two things: 1st. 
  That before the mortal stroke was given be had refused any further combat, 
  and had retreated as far as he could with safety; and 2d. That he killed his 
  adversary from necessity, to avoid his own destruction. 
       9. A man may defend himself against animals, and he may during the 
  attack kill them, but not afterwards. 1 Car. & P. 106; 13 John. 312; 10 
  John. 365. 
       10. As a general rule no man is allowed to defend himself with force if 
  he can apply to the law for redress, and the law gives him a complete 
  remedy, See Assault; Battery; Necessity; Trespass. 

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