What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know about Self-defense Law


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Marty Hayes
July 7, 2010, 11:23 AM
What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-defense Law, by Marty Hayes, J.D. was just released and is now available to the public free of charge. Click this link to read a copy of this 16 page discussion regarding the laws of self-defense.

http://www.armedcitizensnetwork.org/images/stories/Hayes-SDLaw.pdf

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Frank Ettin
July 7, 2010, 11:35 AM
Marty,

It looks like a wonderful resource. I just had a chance to glance at it now, and I'm about to go out for most of the day. I look forward to reading it closely later today.

Thank you.

Marty Hayes
July 7, 2010, 11:39 AM
Thanks. It is part of the educational mission of the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network, LLC.

speaksoftly
July 7, 2010, 11:51 AM
Thank you very much! As a law professional I can definitely say that it pays to know the law as not knowing will definitely bite you in the arse.

Ernie Mccracken
July 7, 2010, 12:31 PM
What say you in regard to this portion? I was taught to keep my mouth 100% shut when questioned by a responding officer(s) and seek immediate council following an incident.

FWIW, this advice came from a guy who acted as senior firearms instructor at the local police academy and claimed to have served as an expert witness in many deadly force cases over a 20+ year period.



Instead of going into detail when speaking with responding officers on the scene, I recommend briefly explaining what the attacker did to precipitate your self-defense actions plus pointing out evidence that could be lost or overlooked and identifying witnesses to the event. Next, state that you would like the counsel of an attorney before you give a formal statement, a written statement or even a tape-recorded statement. Once you’ve said that, keeping your mouth shut is likely the best approach. You have been a good witness and cooperated with the police. You have reported the crime committed against you, and frankly that is as far as you need to go at that time.

Cosmoline
July 7, 2010, 12:46 PM
That caught my eye too. It's a real risk. You may be able to satisfy the responding officers so completely that they don't even arrest you. But then again you may be hanging yourself without knowing it. A great deal depends on the circumstances and the jurisdiction. Silence is not evidence. And a statement does not have to be formal to be used against you. Hearsay doctrine is riddled with exceptions. So the only really safe way to ensure nothing is used against you is to say nothing more than identifying yourself and requesting counsel. Coupled with the fact that LEO's are trained to ease more and more information out of suspects, you really need to watch yourself.

Marty Hayes
July 7, 2010, 12:53 PM
Ernie and Cosmo:

I am well aware of the issue, and explained both sides of this issue in the booklet.

In the end, it is up to the gun owner to decide if they want to report the crime which was perpetrated against them, and be listed as the victim and reporting party, or do they want to be arrested and listed as the suspect in a homicide or aggrevated assault?

MisterMike
July 7, 2010, 01:07 PM
Marty--I'd generally agree with your advice. I just skimmed the article, so I may have missed it, but I'd also emphasize the importance of trying to be the one to call in the report. If you have the means to do so, I'd call 9-1-1, explain that you were just the victim of an attempted [robbery/beating/murder/whatever] at [location] and that you shot in self-defense. Again, this changes the mindset of the responders. They may still arrest you, but they're going into the situation in the belief that you are someone who shot out of fear of being harmed and were not an aggressor.

Also--and I can't emphasize this enough--identifying yourself as a victim and communicating with the dispatcher about what to do when the police arrive is critically important to your safety. A lot often gets lost in the dispatch process, and there's a serious chance of you, the victim, being shot by the responding officers who respond to a dispatch of "man with a gun, shooting" and find you holding a pistol over a bleeding body.

wishin
July 8, 2010, 03:30 PM
Thanks. It's always good advice to remain silent until a lawyer can be consulted, but as a practical matter, many people are faced with the dilemma of going into debt they can't afford to retain an attorney; knowing full well the potential for self incrimination.

Cosmoline
July 8, 2010, 04:17 PM
In the end, it is up to the gun owner to decide if they want to report the crime which was perpetrated against them, and be listed as the victim and reporting party, or do they want to be arrested and listed as the suspect in a homicide or aggrevated assault?

This just doesn't sit right with me at all. It's nowhere near as black or white as that. The physical facts will likely speak for themselves, and all trained officers know how to read the scene. What you ensure by getting counsel quickly before making statements is that those facts are presented properly and extraneous, dangerous material is removed.

As one example, many lay people are fixated on the notion that to be self defense the killing must not be done with the intent to kill. So they're liable to prattle on to the officer that they didn't intend to kill the intruder. Which starts to sound less like self defense and more like manslaughter. That's just one of many examples of how things can go wrong. Lay people are also often convinced they can exculpate themselves from trouble by repeating magic words, without knowing what those words really mean.

All in all, it's better to politely refuse to provide a statement (forget "formal" vs. "informal"--nothing you say to a cop is "informal" or "off the record") before collecting your thoughts and consulting counsel. That doesn't mean they're going to arrest you. If the facts already look favorable, they may just set a time to meet in the next few days. Though they will collect your firearm as evidence.

Frank Ettin
July 8, 2010, 05:06 PM
...The physical facts will likely speak for themselves, and all trained officers know how to read the scene....Maybe and maybe not. Do you want to count on it?

What if the responding officers miss your assailant's knife that you saw fall down the storm drain? What if they don't know about the guy you saw pick up your assailant's gun and walk off with it? What if the miss some witnesses? What if your assailant (who is alive) makes an immediate statement accusing you of attacking him?

Maybe things are clear, and maybe they aren't.

...What you ensure by getting counsel quickly before making statements is that those facts are presented properly and extraneous, dangerous material is removed.... Lay people are also often convinced they can exculpate themselves from trouble by repeating magic words, without knowing what those words really mean... Which is why I like Massad Ayoob's recommendation.


Say something like, "That person, or those people, attacked me." You are thus immediately identifying yourself as the victim.
Say something like, "I will sign a complaint." You are thus immediately identifying the other person(s) as the criminal(s).
Point out possible evidence, especially evidence that may not be immediate apparent. You don't want any such evidence to be missed.
Point out possible witnesses.
Then say something like, "Officer, you know how serious this is. I'm not going to say anything more right now. You'll have my full cooperation in 24 hours, after I've talked with my lawyer."

This whole matter has been discussed extensively before. See

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=493380

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=526511

If you enjoyed reading about "What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know about Self-defense Law" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!