©The Sun Daily (Used by permission)
by TAN YI LIANG
PETALING JAYA: When does self–defence cross the legal line?
You’re walking along the pavement. A man comes running up to you. He tries to grab your bag, but you punch him. He falls, hits his head hard on the concrete ground and dies. Are you now in trouble?
According to criminal defence lawyer Sreekant Pillai, you would have to prove that you had reacted instantaneously with reasonable force as your life was threatened.
As for what reasonable force means, the scenario described above explains it, he said.
However, if the crime perpetrator died from wounds sustained in a scuffle, the original victim would have to show that the force used to fend off the robber was reasonable by proving that their life was in fact threatened, he added.
“Ultimately, the courts would look at the specific facts and circumstances on a case–bycase basis. What the court thinks is self–defence might be not what many people think.”
Under Section 99 of the Penal Code, every person has the right to defend themselves or anyone else against any offence affecting the human body or to defend property from any form of robbery, mischief or criminal trespass.
Section 96 of the same Act also states that no act done in self–defence is an offence under the
Criminal defence lawyer, Amer Hamzah Arshad said the force used in self–defence must be proportionate to the danger.
“If the person is no longer in immediate danger, and yet they continue to inflict harm onto the suspect, then it crosses the line.
“In certain circumstances, such as snatch theft, you can still chase the person to retrieve your property. But when you apprehend the person and get back your property, you then cannot rely on self–defence if you continue to beat the person to death,” said Amer.
He added that victims of crime have to know when to stop inflicting harm on their assailant.
“The moment you manage to overpower and apprehend your assailant, you cannot inflict further harm on them,” he said, adding that one can make a citizen’s arrest.
Bar Council Human Rights Committee cochairperson Andrew Khoo, who voiced similar views, added: “Factors have to be taken into account such as whether the perceived threat on the part of the victim is objectively apparent to a third party.”