Defense of Others
The primary self-defense statute in Georgia is O.C.G.A. § 16-3-21, “Use of force in defense of self or others.…” This Georgia statute establishes that a person is legally justified in using the threat of force, or actual force, against another “when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
Justified Use Of Deadly Force
Likewise, O.C.G.A. § 16-3-21 establishes the general standard for the justified use of deadly force. A person is legally justified in using deadly force (“force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm”) for self-defense “only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary” to protect himself, herself, or a third party against death “or great bodily injury,” or the commission of a forcible felony.
Defense Of Self Or Others
The name of this statute is key: the defense of self or others. The law in Georgia allows an individual to protect any other person to the same extent the victim could protect himself or herself. The protector may step into the shoes of the victim and repel the threat by the use of the threats of force, force, or deadly force, which is that force “intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm.” O.C.G.A. §16-3-21.
Heroes be forewarned, however: defending others carries the potential for danger, apart from the possible physical danger associated with defending another person. Not only must you have a reasonable belief the use of force/deadly force is necessary to prevent an immediate injury, the force you use to protect the third party must be no more than is reasonable to repel the threat. As several decisions of Georgia appellate courts have held, if the amount of force used by a person is excessive, it does not qualify as self-defense. Hudson v. State, 325 Ga. App. 657 (2014).