Tobias from Sweden writes in this self protection question:

“I find myself agreeing more and more about your specific way of thinking when it comes down to surviving life-or-death self-defense situations, especially in regards to the fact that the bad guys don’t operate by the laws of society and therefore, in survival, neither can we.

I am curious how one can explain and justify the violence used to the police or court after such a self-defense incident has occurred, given that here in Sweden, there seems to be some misconception that if I hurt the bad guy, who initially tried to do harm to me, it somehow grants him, ‘Oh poor him you injured him so now I can face criminal charges,’ type of BS.

I know you don’t hand out legal advice, but I am curious about how you would justify or explain it all…”


Since I have no experience with Swedish law, I can only comment on American law (and even that varies from state to state).

The general principle here is that if you were afraid for your life – that is, that a reasonable person would expect to be killed or seriously harmed if they did not act – then it is justified self-defense. If you were afraid for your life, and can explain the reasons for that fear in such a way that makes sense to the average citizen, then you’re better off, at least in a legal sense.

But even here, and even under such real threat with clear articulation after the fact, the legal issues surrounding self protection questions can get difficult. This is why we make it so clear in our training that it’s not for trivial use.

Injuring someone just because they “pissed you off” or were “asking for it” – in other words, for social or antisocial reasons –  will get you in a lot of legal trouble regardless of where you live.

Restricting the use of the tool of violence to only the most dire situations, ones that involve killing or at least serious harm without direct action, will go a long way toward not only giving you the best chance for survival, but also giving you the greatest chance of being on the right side of the law when it’s all done.

How can you tell it’s dire? When you have no choice. As we like to point out, if you have to ask, the answer is “no.” If you’re wondering whether or not you should hurt the man or worrying about how the law would view what you’re thinking of doing, it’s because you know, on some level, it’s not appropriate.

So, in answer to your self protection question: The way we here in the States would make sure the use of violence is legally defensible is by only using it when we are truly afraid for our lives. That’s what the American legal system will look for to excuse it or not.

And, yes, this is not legal advice — for that, I suggest you contact a lawyer in your local state or district.


Tim Larkin

Self-Protection Expert & Founder of Target Focus Training
Author of When Violence Is The Answer

Scroll to Top