Can you shoot someone in a fight?

Is it a criminal offense to kill someone in self-defense?

Self-defense (Section 32 of the Criminal Code) is a Justification. This means: If the prerequisites for self-defense are met, then the act committed is not punishablebecause it was justified.

Unlike the justification of the Emergency (Section 34 of the Criminal Code) takes place in the context of self-defense no proportionality test and so too no consideration between the legal asset you injured in self-defense and the legal asset threatened by the attacker.

This means: Even if the attack is only aimed at the property, the killing of the attacker through self-defense can be justified, even though life is in value terms far above property.

In every case in which self-defense comes into consideration as a justification, the prerequisites for self-defense must be carefully examined. The defense attorney is only really justified when they are available. I do not want to list all the requirements here in detail (if you are interested you can also read a legal textbook, e.g. Criminal Law General Part by Wessels / Beulke / Satzger; you can find this in every university library).

I would like to give a few more pointers, which are unfortunately often misunderstood:

First of all, a Self-defense exist, so that self-defense can be considered at all. A self-defense situation exists when there is an unlawful, current attack. The presence in particular often causes problems: If the attack is already over (for example because the thief is fleeing without prey or the attacker has stopped beating and is on his way back), then self-defense is no longer an option.

If there is a self-defense situation, it must be checked whether the defense action also meets the requirements for self-defense.

As noted above, it must be used in self-defense no proportionality be given. Many believe that self-defense must be proportionate. On the one hand, it can simply be wrong knowledge, on the other hand, some people mean the right thing by it, but express it with the wrong word.

"Proportionality" here means that two legal interests are set in relation to one another. The threatened and the violated legal interest are compared with one another. Example: The attacker threatens the legal asset of health / physical integrity by trying to break the victim's arm. The victim fights back and kills the attacker. It is completely clear that the legal good of life has a higher value than the legal good of health / physical integrity. So the defense here was not proportionate. Nevertheless, in this case self-defense can exist because such a "proportionality" is not a prerequisite for self-defense.

What some mean by the word "proportionality" may be the "Necessity", which is actually a prerequisite for self-defense. A defensive act is necessary if the defender uses a suitable means against the attacker, and if several equally suitable means are available, the mildest means (= most harmless for the attacker).

Here's an example: A steals B's wallet and runs away with it. B has the following options: a) He shoots A in the back, kills him with it and gets the wallet back. b) He shoots A in the leg so that he cannot run any further. c) He runs after A, but is slower than A, so he doesn't know whether he can catch him and throw him to the ground.

All three means of defense are initially suitable (i.e. somehow beneficial) to end the attack (which incidentally still continues here because the thief runs away with loot and is therefore still present). Suppose B had chosen option a) and shot A. Then the question must be asked: Was this remedy suitable? Yes, it was. Are there any other resources available to him? Yes, namely b) and c). Were these means equally well suited to ending the attack? Option c) certainly not, because the outcome is uncertain and the defender does not need to rely on uncertain defense options. But b) would be milder and equally suitable, because this possibility would have prevented the thief from running away just as well as shooting.

In the case where B shoots A although there was a milder means, B's act was not necessary and therefore not justified by self-defense.

So: Self-defense is not about the fact that the legal interest defended was worth more or the same as the legal interest that was violated by the defense. It's just a matter of the defender not doing more than is necessary to stop the attack. And if the killing is necessary and the attack cannot be ended in any other way, then the killing is basically justified even in the case of an attack on property.

Briefly on one last requirement of self-defense (which is not in the law, but was "invented" by case law to restrict the very far-reaching right of self-defense): Necessity. Here the case law has developed some groups of cases in which an actually given act of self-defense was not required and therefore not justified.

Some examples for these case groups:

a) a blatant disproportion - that is very similar to proportionality. If the impaired legal interest (e.g. the life of the attacker) is so blatantly disproportionate to the defended legal interest (e.g. a few sweets) that this disproportion appears extremely blatant to any normal-thinking person, then self-defense was not required and thus the Action not justified.

b) Use of firearms - actually checkable when the action is necessary. If the defense counsel has the option, according to the case law, the use of firearms must first be threatened, then a warning shot and only as a last resort a sharp (possibly fatal) shot is fired.

c) In the case of self-defense provocations (i.e. one provokes a self-defense situation in order to then be able to defend oneself against the attack in a justified manner), self-defense is restricted or even completely impossible according to the case law.

There are a few other case groups.

I hope I was able to help you with this rather long and detailed answer and also clear up some misunderstandings of the self-defense law. So your question can be answered with a no. The killing of a person is also justified if the prerequisites for self-defense are met.