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Oregon Self Defense Laws

161.190 Justification as a defense

In any prosecution for an offense, justification, as defined in ORS 161.195 to 161.275, is a defense. [1971 c.743 §18]

161.195 “Justification” described.

(1) Unless inconsistent with other provisions of chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, defining justifiable use of physical force, or with some other provision of law, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when it is required or authorized by law or by a judicial decree or is performed by a public servant in the reasonable exercise of official powers, duties or functions.
(2) As used in subsection (1) of this section, “laws and judicial decrees” include but are not limited to: (a) Laws defining duties and functions of public servants;
(b) Laws defining duties of private citizens to assist public servants in the performance of certain of their functions;
(c) Laws governing the execution of legal process;
(d) Laws governing the military services and conduct of war; and
(e) Judgments and orders of courts. [1971 c.743 §19]
Note: See note under 161.015.

161.200 Choice of evils

(1) Unless inconsistent with other provisions of chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, defining justifiable use of physical force, or with some other provision of law, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when:
(a) That conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury; and
(b) The threatened injury is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding the injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue.
(2) The necessity and justifiability of conduct under subsection (1) of this section shall not rest upon considerations pertaining only to the morality and advisability of the statute, either in its general application or with respect to its application to a particular class of cases arising thereunder. [1971 c.743 §20]

161.205 Use of physical force generally

The use of physical force upon another person that would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances:
(1) A parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person may use reasonable physical force upon such minor or incompetent person when and to the extent the person reasonably believes it necessary to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person. A teacher may use reasonable physical force upon a student when and to the extent the teacher reasonably believes it necessary to maintain order in the school or classroom or at a school activity or event, whether or not it is held on school property.
(2) An authorized official of a jail, prison or correctional facility may use physical force when and to the extent that the official reasonably believes it necessary to maintain order and discipline or as is authorized by law.
(3) A person responsible for the maintenance of order in a common carrier of passengers, or a person acting under the direction of the person, may use physical force when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes it necessary to maintain order, but the person may use deadly physical force only when the person reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or serious physical injury.
(4) A person acting under a reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious physical self-injury may use physical force upon that person to the extent that the person reasonably believes it necessary to thwart the result.
(5) A person may use physical force upon another person in self-defense or in defending a third person, in defending property, in making an arrest or in preventing an escape, as hereafter prescribed in chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971. [1971 c.743 §21; 1981 c.246 §1]

161.209 Use of physical force in defense of a person

Except as provided in ORS 161.215 and 161.219, a person is justified in using physical force upon another person for self-defense or to defend a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force, and the person may use a degree of force which the person reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose. [1971 c.743 §22]

161.215 Limitations on use of physical force in defense of a person

Notwithstanding ORS 161.209, a person is not justified in using physical force upon another person if:
(1) With intent to cause physical injury or death to another person, the person provokes the use of unlawful physical force by that person; or
(2) The person is the initial aggressor, except that the use of physical force upon another person under such circumstances is justifiable if the person withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person the intent to do so, but the latter nevertheless continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful physical force; or (3) The physical force involved is the product of a combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law. [1971 c.743 §24]

161.219 Limitations on use of deadly physical force in defense of a person

Notwithstanding the provisions of ORS 161.209, a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person unless the person reasonably believes that the other person is:
(1) Committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or
(2) Committing or attempting to commit a burglary in a dwelling; or
(3) Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force against a person. [1971 c.743 §23]

161.225 Use of physical force in defense of premises

(1) A person in lawful possession or control of premises is justified in using physical force upon another person when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or terminate what the person reasonably believes to be the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass by the other person in or upon the premises.
(2) A person may use deadly physical force under the circumstances set forth in subsection (1) of this section only:
(a) In defense of a person as provided in ORS 161.219; or
(b) When the person reasonably believes it necessary to prevent the commission of arson or a felony by force and violence by the trespasser.
(3) As used in subsection (1) and subsection (2)(a) of this section, “premises” includes any building as defined in ORS 164.205 and any real property. As used in subsection (2)(b) of this section, “premises” includes any building. [1971 c.743 §25]

161.229 Use of physical force in defense of property

A person is justified in using physical force, other than deadly physical force, upon another person when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission by the other person of theft or criminal mischief of property. [1971 c.743 §26]

161.235 Use of physical force in making an arrest or in preventing an escape

Except as provided in ORS 161.239, a peace officer is justified in using physical force upon another person only when and to the extent that the peace officer reasonably believes it necessary:
(1) To make an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested person unless the peace officer knows that the arrest is unlawful; or
(2) For self-defense or to defend a third person from what the peace officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force while making or attempting to make an arrest or while preventing or attempting to prevent an escape. [1971 c.743 §27]

161.239 Use of deadly physical force in making an arrest or in preventing an escape

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of ORS 161.235, a peace officer may use deadly physical force only when the peace officer reasonably believes that:
(a) The crime committed by the person was a felony or an attempt to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or
(b) The crime committed by the person was kidnapping, arson, escape in the first degree, burglary in the first degree or any attempt to commit such a crime; or
(c) Regardless of the particular offense which is the subject of the arrest or attempted escape, the use of deadly physical force is necessary to defend the peace officer or another person from the use or threatened imminent use of deadly physical force; or
(d) The crime committed by the person was a felony or an attempt to commit a felony and under the totality of the circumstances existing at the time and place, the use of such force is necessary; or
(e) The officer’s life or personal safety is endangered in the particular circumstances involved.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section constitutes justification for reckless or criminally negligent conduct by a peace officer amounting to an offense against or with respect to innocent persons whom the peace officer is not seeking to arrest or retain in custody. [1971 c.743 §28]

161.245 “Reasonable belief” described; status of unlawful arrest

(1) For the purposes of ORS 161.235 and 161.239, a reasonable belief that a person has committed an offense means a reasonable belief in facts or circumstances which if true would in law constitute an offense. If the believed facts or circumstances would not in law constitute an offense, an erroneous though not unreasonable belief that the law is otherwise does not render justifiable the use of force to make an arrest or to prevent an escape from custody.
(2) A peace officer who is making an arrest is justified in using the physical force prescribed in ORS 161.235 and 161.239 unless the arrest is unlawful and is known by the officer to be unlawful. [1971 c.743 §29]

161.249 Use of physical force by private person assisting an arrest

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person who has been directed by a peace officer to assist the peace officer to make an arrest or to prevent an escape from custody is justified in using physical force when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force to be necessary to carry out the peace officer’s direction.
(2) A person who has been directed to assist a peace officer under circumstances specified in subsection (1) of this section may use deadly physical force to make an arrest or to prevent an escape only when:
(a) The person reasonably believes that force to be necessary for self-defense or to defend a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or
(b) The person is directed or authorized by the peace officer to use deadly physical force unless the person knows that the peace officer is not authorized to use deadly physical force under the circumstances. [1971 c.743 §30]

161.255 Use of physical force by private person making citizen’s arrest

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a private person acting on the person’s own account is justified in using physical force upon another person when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes it necessary to make an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested person whom the person has arrested under ORS 133.225.
(2) A private person acting under the circumstances prescribed in subsection (1) of this section is justified in using deadly physical force only when the person reasonably believes it necessary for self-defense or to defend a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force. [1971 c.743 §31; 1973 c.836 §339]

161.260 Use of physical force in resisting arrest prohibited

A person may not use physical force to resist an arrest by a peace officer who is known or reasonably appears to be a peace officer, whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful. [1971 c.743 §32]

161.265 Use of physical force to prevent escape

(1) A guard or other peace officer employed in a correctional facility, as that term is defined in ORS 162.135, is justified in using physical force, including deadly physical force, when and to the extent that the guard or peace officer reasonably believes it necessary to prevent the escape of a prisoner from a correctional facility.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, a guard or other peace officer employed by the Department of Corrections may not use deadly physical force in the circumstances described in ORS 161.267 (3). [1971 c.743 §33; 2005 c.431 §3]


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