A look at Hawaii's self-defense laws

Published On: Jul 08 2013 10:58:00 PM HST

In closely-watched trials happening in Hawaii and on the mainland, self-defense claims and the use of deadly force are two key points.

Hawaii laws state deadly force is only allowed when a person believes it is the only way to prevent death, serious injury, kidnapping, rape or sodomy.

"If you can safely retreat, you don't have the right to use deadly force," said attorney William Harrison.

In Hawaii, you are not required to safely retreat when you are threatened in your home or workplace.

"If someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night, you don't know what they have in their hands, and they are an aggressor you may be entitled to use deadly force," said Harrison.

Self-defense with deadly force has been successfully used for cases of home invasions. Keith Kuraoka was not charged after shooting and killing one of five armed intruders who started shooting inside his Waianae home in 2007.

In a number of assault cases, self-defense will be claimed by one or even both sides. Hawaii law does not gives self-defense protection for those who are responsible for the violence.

"You can't be the aggressor in that situation. When someone is trying to assault you, commit a crime against you and you feel the immediate need to protect yourself you may be able to claim self-defense," said Harrison.

A person doesn't have to wait until an aggressor attacks in order to defend himself.

They may be justified in striking first and still claim self-defense to get rid of the threat.


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