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Self Defence and The Law

The answer is:

c) The maximum sentence for making a threat to kill is 10 years in jail.

We found some good content / resources online while searching on this topic:

"Self Defence

Anyone accused of an assault can deny the offence because they were acting in self defence. This means that they accept they have used force or violence against the alleged victim, but that they were acting lawfully when they did so.

Self defence sounds straightforward, but there are many different parts to it that the Court will consider when deciding whether or not someone has lawfully used violence. The three main points are:

1. The person genuinely believed they had to protect themselves from being assaulted or attacked;
2. The person has only used a level of force that is reasonable for the threat or attack being used against them; and
3. The person only uses force while it is still needed.

So if a Court believes that someone has used excessive force, or has used force when it was not still necessary to protect themselves from an attack, they will be guilty of the offence. This is why it is crucial to prepare a case thoroughly, and have a solicitor or barrister at Court who can persuade the Court that the defendant was using lawful self defence."


 "Threats to Kill

One of the more serious violent offences is Making Threats to Kill, contrary to s.16 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. If you are accused of threatening to kill someone, the Prosecution must prove that:

    You have made a threat to kill (either spoken or by your actions), and
    You intended that the victim would fear the threat would be carried out

Often, the police will arrest you for threats to kill after an allegation of a heated argument. The phrase “I’ll kill you” is commonly used in the heat of the moment as an expression of anger, but it is very rare that someone says it with the necessary intention to commit the offence. However, these cases are often brought to Court and the consequences can be severe if you are convicted.

The offence of making a threat to kill is an either way offence, meaning it can be dealt with either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. The offence is so serious that most people found guilty would be at risk of a prison sentence. Cases involving alleged threats to kill need detailed preparation before trial, as well as careful cross-examination of prosecution witnesses to ensure that you have the best chance at being found Not Guilty of the charge."

Stephen Lickrish & Associates are a firm of Solicitors in Greater Manchester.


"Threats to kill

Threatening to kill someone is a criminal offence. The other person must genuinely fear it will be carried out. Throwaway comments not said seriously muttered between friends and associates will not therefore be an offence. Where the victim fears for their life and safety however an offence will have been committed. Proving a threat to kill is difficult and more often than not it is simply a case of one person’s word against another’s.

There is a defence to this charge – that there is a lawful excuse for making the threat. If the threat was made in a self-defence situation then this may be a lawful excuse. A person may make such a threat to prevent crime and defend themselves or another.

The maximum sentence for making a threat to kill is 10 years in jail.

A threat aimed at a particular person of violence in general rather than specifically to kill is a much lesser offence and represents an alternative charge. Other alternatives are affray or using threatening words or behaviour. Lazy prosecution can sometimes mean people are charged inappropriately. We can investigate the circumstances and in some situations we can negotiate for alternative charges which are more suitable, such as public order offences."


"The key is not whether he really intended to kill you but whether he genuinely intended you to think he would kill you. If there is doubt whether the threat carried the necessary intention then a charge under S4 of the Public Order Act is appropriate."


"Self Defence

A Public Order Offence may not be used as an alternative to an assault where self-defence is in issue. The law of self-defence is equally applicable to Public Order Offences. If it can't be proved that the defendant was not entitled to use or threatened violence in defence of himself or another, or of property, a Public Order Offence reliant on that element will fail, as would an assault.

See also, R v Rothwell and Barton (1993) Crim L R 626 and section 5(3) of the Public Order Act.
Archbold 29-16, self defence and violent disorder.
Archbold 29-23, self-defence and affray.
Archbold 29-32 self-defence and section 4 POA."


"What Laws Protect Me From Threats And Violence At Work?

Your employer owes you a general duty of care to protect you from threats and violence at work. There are also five pieces of specific health and safety legislation that extend to violence at work:

    the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA);
    the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
    the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013(RIDDOR);
    the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977; and
    the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.

For official advice and publications, including guidance for employers, see the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) web pages on violence in the workplace.

Employers may also owe you duties under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Employers are also obliged to protect you from harassment, although since October 2013, this no longer applies to harass ment by third parties such as customers or other members of the public, as this has been repealed from the Equality Act 2010.

The Act protects you against harassment and victimisation because of sex, sexual orientation, trans-sexuality, marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, race, nationality, disability, religion and belief, and age. In Northern Ireland, protection extends to harassment and victimisation on grounds of political opinion.

There are also criminal laws. Causing a person harassment, alarm or distress can be a criminal offence and can lead to prosecution under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The punishment is likely to be more severe if the offence is motivated by discrimination.

There are also separate laws targeting the growing menace of bullying and harassment using technologies, such as the internet and text messaging, a practice known as cyber-bullying. Under the Malicious Communications Act 1998, it is an offence to send an indecent, offensive or threatening letter, electronic communication or other article to another person.

And under section 43 of the Telecommunications Act 1984, it is an offence to send a text message that is indecent, offensive or threatening."

Source: Trade Union Congress website

Before viewing these videos please familiarise yourself with the following.....

Below taken from


The Law and Evidential Sufficiency

Self-defence is available as a defence to crimes committed by use of force.

The basic principles of self-defence are set out in (Palmer v R, [1971] AC 814); approved in R v McInnes, 55 Cr App R 551:

"It is both good law and good sense that a man who is attacked may defend himself. It is both good law and good sense that he may do, but only do, what is reasonably necessary."

The common law approach as expressed in Palmer v R is also relevant to the application of section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967:

"A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large."

Section 3 applies to the prevention of crime and effecting, or assisting in, the lawful arrest of offenders and suspected offenders. There is an obvious overlap between self-defence and section 3. However, section 3 only applies to crime and not to civil matters. So, for instance, it cannot afford a defence in repelling trespassers by force, unless the trespassers are involved in some form of criminal conduct.

Reasonable Force

A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of:

  • self-defence; or
  • defence of another; or
  • defence of property; or
  • prevention of crime; or
  • lawful arrest.

In assessing the reasonableness of the force used, prosecutors should ask two questions:

  • was the use of force necessary in the circumstances, i.e. Was there a need for any force at all? and
  • was the force used reasonable in the circumstances

Therefore we have broken down our view of 'Reasonable Force' into the following levels:-

(of what may or may not be considered 'Reasonable Force') when applied by the law.

Level 1

No or very little risk of injury to attacker using this technique to defend. Lowest level of 'reasonable force'

In considering whether to use Level 1 (or 2 or above) please consider the following:-

Pre-emptive strikes

There is no rule in law to say that a person must wait to be struck first before they may defend themselves, (see R v Deana, 2 Cr App R 75).

Level 2

Potential risk of injury to attacker using this technique to defend. Next lowest level of 'reasonable force'

Level 3

Medium risk of injury to attacker using this technique to defend. Medium level of 'reasonable force'

Level 4

Very high risk of injury to attacker using this technique to defend. Highest level of 'reasonable force'. Only  to be used where danger to life of defendant or his or her family.

DISCLAIMER: Owen Murray M.B.E. and Self Defence North East / and or Sure Safe (North East) Ltd accept no responsibilty for the actions of any person viewing these videos!

Therefore before viewing these videos you must consider the following:-

(again from the Crown Prosectution Service website)

In assessing the reasonableness of the force used, prosecutors should ask two questions:

  • was the use of force necessary in the circumstances, i.e. Was there a need for any force at all? and
  • was the force used reasonable in the circumstances?

The courts have indicated that both questions are to answered on the basis of the facts as the accused honestly believed them to be (R v Williams (G) 78 Cr App R 276), (R. v Oatbridge, 94 Cr App R 367).

To that extent it is a subjective test. There is, however, an objective element to the test. The jury must then go on to ask themselves whether, on the basis of the facts as the accused believed them to be, a reasonable person would regard the force used as reasonable or excessive.

It is important to bear in mind when assessing whether the force used was reasonable the words of Lord Morris in (Palmer v R 1971 AC 814);

"If there has been an attack so that self defence is reasonably necessary, it will be recognised that a person defending himself cannot weigh to a nicety the exact measure of his defensive action. If the jury thought that that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had only done what he honestly and instinctively thought necessary, that would be the most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken ..."

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