I'd really recommend that you take a look at LFI-1, FAS-2 or similar. And talk to a couple attorneys with experience in this field; I did.
A wrongful death suit is trouble, but there are plenty of "good shoots" that didn't end up with the defender losing everything. Yes, even a successful defense costs a lot of money. That is infinitely less than the cost of not dropping the hammer when you need to. Death and dismemberment are forever.
A good enough attorney can turn over almost any case, but here are the facts:
In your example, I assume Bubba is attacking Granny unarmed. That's assault (as a threat) which is a misdemeanor, or battery (still not a . For that level of crime, you cannot utilize self defense to the point of lethal force. Regardless of how frail granny is, firing a shot into her attacker in that situation is illegal. If Bubba was committing aggravated assault (by stating that he is going to kill her, going to rape her, attacks her with a weapon, etc) then that is a felony and she is within her rights to shoot him dead.
Now, if you want to say that a being old, infirm, weak, etc, is going to get you off the hook, that is downright misleading. It will give the jury more sympathy for you, and you might get off the hook. But to say that a cop won't even take you back to the station is absurd; unless they aren't doing their job, they are going to take the little old granny in, especially considering a cluster of bullet wounds in her unarmed attacker. If they determine that she was a victim of aggravated assault, she'd be free to go. If not, don't count on the idea that because she's frail, charges won't be filed.
As for death and dismemberment being forever... I'm sorry, but if your attacker doesn't have a weapon, and you have the time to shoot him, one shot is generally all it takes. One to the chest or stomach tends to stop people, unless they are hopped up on drugs. If you empty a clip into an unarmed man, you better make damn sure that you have an iron-clad defense, or you will be taken to the cleaners.
As an attorney, I will comment that I think that tellner is correct on this one. Granny has an objective reason to believe that she is facing serious injury or death as Bubba attacks her. I.E. he's 300 pounds and an experienced fighter and she is 80 years old and very feeble.
Yes the cops can ignore her statement when she says I feared for my life and arrest her. Yes, she can be sued in civil court, however assuming that she has competent legal representation she'll probably win.
This is the reggy denny quandry, if the attacker does not announce his intentions, how much damage does he have to inflict upon the victim before they can assume that they face serious injury or death?
In certain cases intent can be inferred from the attacker's conduct, unlike with a healthy abled bodied individual Granny's body can't absorb much punishment. She has to end the attack quickly for her own survival.
Thank you, Mr. Browning.
The standard is that a reasonable person in your situation and knowing what you know would be "in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury". One of the things that gets taken into account is disparity of force. While the standard isn't quite the same for civil suits the attorneys I've talked to and the expert witnesses seem to agree that it makes a huge difference in civil court, to the point where if it was a good shoot with extras like this a wrongful death suit probably isn't going to succeed.
If you really believe you are in immediate danger of being raped, robbed by an armed person, killed, maimed, kidnapped or stuck in a building that has been set on fire, you have a lot more important things to worry about than the possibility that you will lose money sometime later. Do what you have to (but nothing more) and get a good lawyer. Juries do some stupid things, but your odds really are pretty good assuming you stay alive long enough to get to court.
And your fear of serious bodily injury was objectively reasonable and not the result of wacky paranioa and reading too many ninja comics or the Martialist.
Then my question for you, Mr. Browning, concerns the legality of the situation. The law, itself, regarding this type of situation is cut and dry; firing on an unarmed attacker who has not made mention of his intent is illegal. Whether or not a jury will see extenuating circumstances, or whether or not charges end up being filed, does that change the fact that the act itself is a crime?
Obviously, if you are forced to shoot someone to save yourself, and you can communicate that court, you might not have much of a problem. I took issue, however, with Tellner's example; which seemed to make the point that if the attacker is bigger than you, stronger than you, and meaner than you, you can essentially do whatever you wish to them, without consequence. That is a very dangerous assumption to make about the legal system, and I'm sure there are quite a few men in prison whose lawyers told them that they could beat whatever charge, and more than a few who have lost tremendous amounts despite the fact that 'no jury in its right mind should have found against them.'
The point here is that I do not know how many grannies visit this website, or read these forum, but I feel free to assume that the average bullshido member is at least able-bodied. Is the person reading this advice going to assume "well, I can't do that, I'm not exceedingly frail" or are they going to take away the idea that "my attacker is physically outside of my league, this calls for a double tap to the chest and a bullet between the eyes?"
Edit: My only knowledge about self-defense law, outside of casual reading, was in the form of a self-defense course given at UCF by Ron Kazoroski, a former Police Chief and career Police Officer.
Last edited by CNagy; 5/28/2006 7:05am at .
CNagy, nobody ever said you could do "anything you want" to an attacker. What we're saying is that there is a body of law concerning self defense, especially deadly force. The essentials haven't changed much in over a thousand years. You don't have the right to use deadly force unless it is to protect yourself or an innocent in circumstances where death or severe injury is "immediate and otherwise unavoidable". The important thing here is that the situation and your knowledge about it determine what you can reasonably do. If the attacker presents no real danger you may not hurt him. If he presents a greater danger you are under less restraint. If it's ridiculoulsy unbalanced, well, one of the greatest Justices ever to sit on the Supreme Court said "Calm reflection is not possible in the face of the upraised knife."
Things are less hard-edged in civil court, but the same principles apply. It is very difficult to prove that someone wronged you if you attacked him and he responded with what the law considered reasonable force.
Self defense law is not always cut and dried because it uses a reasonable person standard for determining whether a particular attack would put a person in fear of serious bodily injury or death. This allows for a flexable response from case to case but can lead to results many would consider inconsistent. You also put too much weight on declared intent. People can infer intent by actions, for example the person who breaks into your home at night and attacks you can be presumed to have a greater desire to seriously hurt you then the buddy you got into a shoving match with at a local pub, even though our breaking and entering specialist doesn't say anything during his assault.
Originally Posted by CNagy
In some states the disparity of force doctrine is articulated by a case, in other jurisdictions it only exists as part of the reasonable person standard. In Connecticut I could win Granny's case partly through the use of a criminal statute that adds penalities to anyone who physically attacks a person over the age of 62. In other words my State recognizes that the elderly are more in danger of serious injury from a simple physical assualt then someone in the prime of life.
Since I wasn't at Ron Kazoroski's presentation I don't know what he said, but I suspect he kept away from the disparity of force defense because its often hard to explain and people can easily misinterpret it. And I'm sure he didn't want to risk someone doing something and later misquoting him.
I came into this a bit late, but having read what the other cop said (forgot his name- sorry) batons can be a world of trouble if you dont know what you are doing, its easy to land yourself right in the **** (and as ive found out can be even more troublesome if you do know what you are doing)
Although if you are going to get one, dont get monadnock as they bend. CASCOs are quite good apparently.
And in reference to what others were saying, as an fma man I always carry a nice metal ballpoint pen, no one has ever, ever been arrested for carrying a pen (ok some smartarse prove me wrong) although it takes a lot more conviction in your actions to stab someone than hit them, although you can legitimately argue that you used what was at hand, or that it was an 'instant arming' defence, with a baton/knife you can't.
Mr Browning, you are correct, but I didn't want to get too technical and stuck with a fairly conservative and simple view of things. The idea that the standard of "reasonable" and "immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger" varies depending on the people and situation is pretty universal in the English-speaking world. That's why I use the extreme example mentioned above.