The Law of Self Defence in Victoria

The Law of Self Defence in Victoria

by Brendan Wilkinson, Barrister & Solicitor, Level 4 116 Hardware Street, Melbourne, Victoria
Phone: 03-9670 1987

This article discusses self defence but does not apply to the following offences:-

1. Murder
2. Manslaughter

The law of self defence is different in relation to those two charges.

A defendant, charged with a criminal offence, may respond to the charge by raising the defence of self defence.

To establish self defence, a two element test applies to the defendant’s conduct as follows:-

  1. The accused must have believed at the time he committed the offence that what he was doing was necessary.
  2. The belief must have been based on reasonable grounds.

Accused’s belief

In relation to the belief it does not involve consideration of what a reasonable or ordinary person would have believed but rather what the accused believed. It does not matter if the accused’s belief was mistaken as long as it was genuinely held. 

Belief on reasonable grounds

The accused must have had a belief which was reasonably held in all the circumstances.

The court will need to determine whether there were in fact reasonable grounds for the accused’s belief that it was necessary to do what he did. This is not the same as requiring the court to determine that the accused acted reasonably in the circumstances.

This is a simple guide to self defence. Each case depends on its own set of facts and if you have a query you should contact:

Brendan Wilkinson
Level 4 116 Hardware St Melbourne VIC 3000
9670 1987
0438 670 198
brendanwilkinson@bigpond.com