Monday, October 11, 2010

Justifiable Use of Deadly Force by Civilians in America

Some of my visitors have asked me to explain the circumstances were deadly force may be used in self-defense or the defense of a third person. I will keep this very simple.

In every state, laws allow deadly force to stop violent felonies in progress. That’s murder, manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, residential burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and arson. There are others that vary somewhat from state to state.

In your own home or place of business there are certain legal and credible presumptions in your favor that you won’t enjoy on a public street.

If you are attacked by someone with a weapon or multiple attackers (even if they are unarmed) you may use any weapon to halt the assault. The same is true if your attacker is unarmed but there is an obvious disparity in size or strength and a reasonable person would believe this assailant could inflict permanent injury or death upon you.

The use of force must end the moment the attackers cease, surrender or flee. You do not shoot to warn, wound or kill. You only shoot to stop the crime. Use the best police style ammunition available. The police use hollow point bullets for the solid reason of public safety. Those bullets are less likely to injure bystanders because a ricochet. In court you can always make that point if needed.

Unlike in the movies you need not first threaten to use deadly force or order your attackers to drop their weapons. That may be much too dangerous anyway. You may simply draw a gun and begin firing until the threat is over. Sometimes your attacker may have quick reflexes and turn around sharply as a protective measure as he takes a bullet in the back. Things like that happen.

Those few states with unconstitutional laws against possessing or carrying arms cannot simply turn your justifiable self-defense act into a crime over some gun ban. They may however try to violate your Civil Rights to keep and bear arms by prosecuting you for a weapons offense with a somewhat small penalty. After the Heller and McDonald cases from our Supreme Court, that won’t be easy for prosecutors.

Avoid conflicts, don’t use more force than necessary and with any luck you won’t have to experience this kind of mayhem. If violence comes your way you must fight fiercely, decisively and for keeps. Hesitation may cost your life or that of someone you love.

As I have said before if you use such force especially away from your home you should collect all weapons and quickly flee to avoid conflict with the accomplices of anyone you’ve injured or killed. They may be out of your sight, but close enough to confront and kill you if you hang around. Taking the weapons from the scene is necessary for both yours and the public’s safety.

Do not call or talk to police. Words like, “I just shot a carjacker!” on a 911 recording may well incriminate you and be used as a confession. The absolute worst thing you can do is lie to police. That won’t be a problem since you will say no more to police than, “I want a lawyer.”

Take the collected weapon/s to a criminal lawyer and ask him to turn them over to police. I don’t know a single criminal lawyer that would let you say anything at all to police anyway. The lawyer can tell police whatever he wants and he cannot and will not tell police what you’ve told him. The lawyer may tell police that his anonymous client was a victim of a violent crime and used self-defense.

Your lawyer will tell police that the gun, knife, club, or whatever belongs to the dead or injured criminal/s. The police will impound the weapon for examination by the crime laboratory and later evidentiary purposes. They may be able to recover DNA from the weapons or somehow trace it to your attackers. Fingerprints are almost never recovered from handguns.

Don’t expect to be allowed by your lawyer to tell anyone, including family members about this incident. The first and only time you should tell your story is to a criminal court jury deciding if your actions were justifiable as you claim.

Avoid all publicity. The media will no matter what either make a hero or a vigilante killer out of you. If the person/s you shot survive they can be counted on to claim they were only asking you for a ride not committing a carjacking. Your assailants will claim it was you that planted any weapons that you’ve recovered.

There will only be a swearing contest about the facts in court if the person/s you shoot survive to testify against you.


Anonymous said...

As a small biz owner and operator, this is solid advice should the occasion ever arise. Thanks...

Anonymous said...

You sir have done nothing but instruct every homicidal maniac how to use illegal guns to murder wherever they please and avoid detection.

I’m reporting you to the FBI and flagging your blog as objectionable. Guns are for one purpose, killing.

You should be jailed for this criminal advice. It will be a wonderful day when police and soldiers forcibly take every gun from every home in America and that matter in the world.

We need one government in this world and one set of civilized laws that must be obeyed by everyone. Barack Obama is the man who should lead this world.

Crimefile said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you want to report me I’ve been told there’s a long line of people in front of you. I take that as a compliment.

I suspect that you have slipped a few days of taking you anti-psychotic medication and are suffering as a result. Please visit you doctor so he can reset your motor a little.

Perhaps you should seek asylum in North Korea since they agree with everything you say. Good luck on your quest.

Anonymous said...

You do not shoot to warn, wound or kill. You only shoot to stop the crime. HUH!!!! What is the difference?
You shouldn't kill first, lie later,obviously. Isn't stopping the crime doing the things such as wounding, warning or killing thaT YOU SAY NOT TO DO?

Anonymous said...

Do not call or talk to police. Words like, “I just shot a carjacker!” on a 911 recording may well incriminate you and be used as a confession. The absolute worst thing you can do is lie to police. That won’t be a problem since you will say no more to police than, “I want a lawyer.”

Most people will be too emotional to follow that advice. They may call the police because they think thats the right thing to do. Most people won't think to let the person die. Won't calling the police be used against the shooter by the prosecution to debunk the selfdefense issue? Shouldn;t a person call the police and their laywer together?

Anonymous said...

One world government?
Barack Obama is the man?
Police and soldiers forcibly take every gun from every home?

Someone has lost his or her marbles. Didn't your psychiatrist tell you to not skip your doses?

Crimefile said...

Some interesting statements:

1. They cannot use the fact that you did not call or talk to police against you in court. If they bring it up it will cause a mistrial. (Fifth Amendment)

2. Call the police with your lawyer. What a great idea, that is to go to a lawyer but you won’t be calling anyone unless your lawyer is too drunk to stop you. You should always follow the specific advice of your criminal lawyer.

3. Shooting to warn, wound or kill may be a crime. Shooting to stop a violent felony is always acceptable.

4. People are too emotional to remember not to talk to police. That’s true and prisons are filled with those people.

Ed Skinner said...

What about insurance to pay my defense lawyer, Paul? And some liability insurance for the suits brought by the BGs and their friends and family?
The NRA sponsored coverage ( is only good for in-home incidents and the LEO's-only plans aren't available to us normal citizens.
Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Always flee the scene.

rubeXcube said...

this is REAL LIFE people!, its not like the tv shows where things get processed in 10 minutes and the bad guys go away. There are plenty stories out there of attackers that sue their is one for example

Anonymous said...

Dead man can't lie to anyone and it's very difficult to sue.

Anonymous said...

Paul you told it like it is. DO NOT call or co-operate with the Police. This is coming from a retired cop. Believe me do just like Paul says and immediately lawyer up. Watch the news, in today's world you are always a suspect never a victim. Just look at how the media has talked about the woman who's husband was shot by the Mexican pirates. The Police and State's Attorney will definitely sand bag you cause all they want is to convict somebody. When you are read your rights pay attention people it starts with "you have the right to remain silent.." only a true moron would ever say anything to the Police or do anything to help in the investigation. Remember the Police are not there to help you and remember the Police and State's Attorney's screw over their own all the time, ask Bill Cozzi in Chicago, what do you really think they will do to you????

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this info! A friend of mine and I were discussing what constitutes the use of deadly force, (cuz them's the discussions you have in college.) He thought it was the assailant had to use deadly force on you (ie shoot at you before you could shoot back), this article put my concerns of that to rest.

As to the guy who said that he was gonna report you, did he not see that the point of this article is to instruct people when they can shoot back at the guys shooting at them? It's not teaching anyone HOW to use a gun, it teaches when you can use it. For some reason I don't see a criminal ever that kind of information. Anyways, thanks for the article, it was well written and very informative

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous, you pussy left winger, obvious fact; only good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns. Bad guys get guns weather there are laws or not. Obama administration gave thousands to ms13 criminals in south America and now is letting them flood the boarder.

Doug Chaney said...

I know a whole lot of people might argue against thinking that it is not real life, not practical does not really apply in a real scenario etc etc etc, that is my heart to shoot only if need be and then with only the specific intent of stopping but NOT killing an assailant...and of course it is easy to make all the practical reasons why one may be much better off if the perpetrator dies...for then justice has only my version without his lies...OF COURSE I know all this as well as the next person...I am not stupid or unrealistic..YET having admitted this I will maintain that it is my HEART to NOT kill another person IF there is any reasonable action I can take in a split second decision...WHO KNOWS what MIGHT happen in the next hours or day or years...I don't and you don't...I DO have a very fast mind even at my age and have so so many times made lightening fast judgment calls to save a situation (might be saving a pile of dishes from all crashing to the floor even...

I am not limiting THAT to anything like a criminal attack...quick thinking and action is all I am referring to) ...SO all I can say is that whereas I USED TO when I was younger and more thoughtless, have a heart where I convinced myself that I should KILL an assailant (thank God I never was put in the position!) I would say things like "Yeah just empty the magazine in the attacker or home invader! Make sure to put at least a couple rounds in the HEAD too!) ...Nowadays I am willing to put aside my own SELF interest to a high degree, and for conscience sake maintain a HEART to NOT kill such a person EVEN if it is more practical...EVEN if it DOES include more inherent risk to my own is a matter of the HEART to downgrade my OWN importance in this world...NOT that I am become a total pacifist at all, It is more of a compromise...a downgrade in philosophy of deadly force...My HEART is, that when the smoke clears I can look at my self honestly in the mirror and before my fellow man and God and say " When I fired, I TRIED to stop the threat WITHOUT killing...I NEVER wanted to end the person/s life...ALL I wanted was to END the threat IF I could do that....MAYBE I will be able to honestly say something like.."I truly am sorry this man is dead/paralyzed/crippled in whatever way etc...but please know that I DELIBERATELY did NOT aim at his head or heart area of the chest...I shot his abdomen and legs at close range I commanded him to "freeze and LIVE" but he insisted on going for his firearm and ONLY THEN did I determine I HAD to shoot the man in the head to END his obvious intent to fire on ME with deadly force.

As far as fleeing the scene? Hey if the guy is dead MAYBE I would do that depending on the exact circumstance...I care a WHOLE lot less about the letter of man's laws than I do my own conscience to treat others as I would have them treat me...WHO am I hurting by fleeing from such a scene? Depending on variables maybe it is smart, maybe is stupid...but WHO am I hurting? IF the guy has an accomplice on his way, I can potentially save HIS life by fleeing...IF I stay put I might end up facing an accomplice OR being WRONGLY sued by the victim or their loved ones...Maybe I also would spare them the temptation of that sin or the thought of "getting even"??

Impossible to say what I would or would not do given the infinite possibilities in various potential scenarios...ALL I CAN say is where my HEART is right this moment...but I have done wrong before so I will not lie and boast to KNOW I will do no wrong again...all I know is what my heart is this moment...or at least what I honestly THINK it is! My HEART is that I do not WANT to sin against God or man...the Bible says that "God looks on the HEART"