imperfect self-defense


: a defense based on self-defense that does not shield the defendant from all liability but reduces the liability especially because the defendant actually but unreasonably believed that he or she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury

Note: Imperfect self-defense is not recognized in all jurisdictions. When it is successfully used in criminal cases it eliminates the element of malice, reducing the level of the offense from murder to manslaughter.

Dictionary Entries Near imperfect self-defense

Cite this Entry

“Imperfect self-defense.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!