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How can anyone be expected to win a self-defense case?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by ccw_steve, Jun 6, 2011.

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  1. ccw_steve

    ccw_steve Member

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    I just read the Armed Citizen's Network article "Defending a Disparity of Force Shooting" that was posted by LPL on another thread.

    After reading it, my first thought is "how would someone like ME ever be able to win a court case after a justifiable self-defense incident"? The guy in the article (Larry Hickey) had years and years of advanced training, and the support of many well known and well respected firearms instructors who flocked to his side to help him during the trials. Even with all of that support, the entire situation was a brutal struggle including misplaced evidence, poor police work, lying witnesses, etc.

    I almost feel like it is better to be killed than defend yourself (almost being the key word); you don't have to go through years of court cases and potential prison time. I did not realize that evidence to validate your testimony literally may not be allowed in court based on a judge's opinion. I guess it is true what they say: you are guilty until proven innocent. Especially with a jury of "peers" who have little to no experience with firearms.

    Comments? Am I too pessimistic here?
     
  2. ccw_steve

    ccw_steve Member

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    Sorry, just realized the 'Legal' topic would have been a much better place for this thread...feel free to move it Mods.
     
  3. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

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    Have you ever noticed alot of people who do claim self defense win.

    The real trick is to not be in 'grey area' as for the incident. Say you went looking for trouble, or you threatened the guy or you attacked first (or retaliated after the assailant had quit.)

    You need to take LFI-1 from Mas Ayoob, or at least get his books on the subject.

    Deaf
     
  4. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Disparity of force cases are also very difficult. Anytime you are forced to shoot someone who is unarmed, even in a case like this, you are going to get a lot of scrutiny.
     
  5. heeler

    heeler Member

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    I think also it depends a whole lot in the state/city you live in and how firearms are viewed in said jurisdictions along with how the public in general in said areas feels about crime,especially violent crime.
    I certainly would feel a bit more confident in Arizona,Texas,Wyoming,Montana,than I would facing the same music in New Jersey,New York,California,D.C.,etc.
    But as we all know a jury can be a total crap shoot no matter where you live.
     
  6. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    ?????????

    Some tough cases recently have been in gun friendly States--

    Larry Hickey in Arizona;

    Harold Fish also in Arizona;

    Mark Abshire in Oklahoma.

    I think you can improve your chances by thoroughly understanding the applicable and by both getting good training and maintaining proficiency so that you have the confidence in your abilities that will allow you to assess the situation and exercise good judgment.

    Taking Massad Ayoob's MAG40 class (formerly called LFI-1) is also an excellent idea.
     
  7. bratch

    bratch Member

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    I think that having force options is important.

    I can't help but think that if Larry had used pepper spray when the women first attacked him the outcome might have been much different.

    If he was still forced to go to guns he would have at least been able to say that he tried a less lethal force option to stop the attack but the attack continued anyway.

    Carrying a LL device is something I have been slacking on and need to remedy.
     
  8. poihths

    poihths Member

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    I have a hobby of following self-defense cases that show up in the media. The vast majority of the cases I've seen that went to trial were what I calll "bad-blood" cases--cases where an existing conflict between people who had decided to be enemies escalated over time until one of them tried to hurt the other, and the other used deadly force in response. Although these cases meet the idea of self-defense viewed narrowly--someone attacked someone else--it wasn't really self-defense; it was an ongoing fight over a span of hours, days or weeks in which both sides clearly chose to continue the conflict and continue the escalation. My impression is that police, prosecutors, judges and juries don't like those situations at all.

    The other kind of case I see that goes bad is when someone truly is attacked through no fault of their own, responds with justifiable lethal force, and then goes overboard. Shots fired after the attacker is already down, shots that hit the fleeing attacker in the back, shots fired while chasing the attacker down a public street--again, the legal system does not like that stuff much at all.

    Some justified shootings go bad for the justifiable shooter when the justifiable shooting causes collateral damage. A shot fired that misses the attacker and hits a bystander is not going to sit well with the legal system.

    The last factor that comes to my mind is that some justifiable shooters handle the situation really badly. Throwing the gun away, fleeing the scene, refusing to cooperate with police--that sort of thing creates a strong impression that your self-defense claim is bogus. It is clear to me from my reading that bogus self-defense claims are pretty common.

    To learn more, reading Massad Ayoob's books is a good place to start; attending a course on the subject from a reputable instructor is good; even spending an hour with an attorney in your area who has handled such cases would probably be a very good investment.

    The most important investment of all, however, is to sit down and do some really clear, realistic, intellectually honest, emotionally dispassionate, thinking based on tangible, demonstrable, factual evidence as opposed to knee-jerk reaction, fear-based stereotypes, internet-based urban myth and so forth.

    What is the actual legal environment where I live? What actually is my security situation? What kinds of threats am I realistically likely to face? What will I use lethal force to defend, given the very high costs I am likely to pay for doing so?

    I hear a great many people substitute prating, chest-thumping, ranting, gear-bragging and similar BS for the clear, cold, fact-based thinking they need to do on an ongoing basis on this issue. Fortunately for them, actual lethal-force encounters are rare enough that they may well be able to get through life without ever having the weakness of their thinking exposed by crunching into a nasty reality.
     
  9. JohnInFlorida

    JohnInFlorida Member

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    poihths,

    Now that I've reached my 60th year, I'd like to think that I will be able to exhibit "the clear, cold, fact-based thinking" you mentioned.

    You make your point extremely well and hopefully the "chest beaters" will think long and hard, BEFORE a situation arises, about just how messed up their lives can/will become the moment they draw a weapon in a situation that is not "imminently life threatening".

    Far too often we see questions on these forums that begin "can I shoot ... ?" ... when in fact the person should be asking (of himself) "MUST I shoot, or is there something else I can do to prevent having to shoot?"

    I guess the bottom line is that even if shooting is justified, proving that is likely going to cause one to utter what ccw_steve said in the OP ...

    "I almost feel like it is better to be killed than defend yourself ..."

    Sobering thoughts, for sure.
     
  10. heeler

    heeler Member

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    Mr.Fiddle,I do not for one minute discount that even in gun friendly states that individuals that have used firearms in self defense have been gone after by the legal powers that be.
    But at the end of the day I still would rather be a resident in Arizona,Texas,or other gun friendly and anti crime states than some place like New Jersey,Cook county Illinois,D.C.,etc.
    And once you have gone so far as pop a cap on someone in what you thought at the very,very quick moment that you have done so and in what YOU have thought vitally necessary for your survival,then all that training you speak of goes right out the window because now sir it becomes a legal matter and even in Texas or Arizona there is always some ankle biting left winger in the states criminal justice league that will do his/her level best to turn it against you to your very detriment.
    So again even facing those odds where would you like to be living when said shooting YOU got yourself involved in...New Jersey/New York or Arizona/Texas,etc.??
    Again though I never discount what can take place in our present legal system.
    Let's just hope and pray the over all majority of us never,ever have to go through what the poor hapless,but now free, and perhaps penniless, Mr. Hickey had to go through.
     
  11. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    And at the end of the day, I would rather know what I am doing and be able to articulate the reasons I concluded it was necessary to use lethal force, than rely on the supposed mercy of the local authorities and public.

    And speaking of Illinois, see this.
     
  12. heeler

    heeler Member

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    Well,yea...if you carry you are supposed to know the law.
    You may have gone to several high dollar shooting/training camps and legal seminars in which you were trained to the finest edge...
    But there in lies the rub.
    There may be some District Attorney that thinks it best that YOU be made an example of even though he/she was not present when you had to go so far as use your firearm to defend your life and well being in what you thought or knew was justifiable.
    Again,not wanting to drag this on and on but many times it helps to be in a more friendly gun state/locale than not.
     
  13. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Or maybe some DA decides it would be a good idea to make an example of you since you chose to go about in public with a gun and yet you skimped on your training.

    There are no guarantees. There are no magic amulets for protection. But the more you know, the better able you are to make good judgments, the better prepared you are emotionally, the more proficient you are with your tools -- the luckier you'll probably be.
     
  14. heeler

    heeler Member

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    Or maybe the DA will go after the state legislators who chose to write the law that such cretins as us should be able to obtain a carry license without going through law school along with an advanced degree in every tactical shooting class available complete with ballistic charts,lead poisoning realities, and advanced anger management training so we can carry out our second amendment rights.
    Hmmm....What a thought.
     
  15. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Speak for yourself. I've been to law school and practiced law for more than 30 years. :D:D:D
     
  16. heeler

    heeler Member

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    And I actually figured as much thus my quip about the law school spill.
    Oh well....carry on
     
  17. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    And thus my liberal use of smilies.
     
  18. catnphx

    catnphx Member

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    It depends on where in Arizona the event occurs. Tucson is very liberal and I'd hate to be in a situation there. Phoenix is a much better place to be for this type of event. I think it goes without saying - but I'll say it anyway - that I hope none of us have to deal with this.
     
  19. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Harold Fish was around Flagstaff.
     
  20. Good&Fruity

    Good&Fruity Member

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    At the end of the day, it comes down to the Jury. If even ONE member of the jury has doubts about your guilt, you walk.
     
  21. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    No, you have a hung jury and can be re-tried. Larry Hickey endured two hung juries until the DA decided to dismiss the charges.
     
  22. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    A preferred way to go about surviving a use of force incident is three-fold

    1. Train to be proficient with the weapon(s) you might use...not just practice, but actually get training
    2. Become familiar with the Law...not what you think it is, what it really is
    3. Limit your exposure...stay away from gray areas in either weapon/ammo selection or tactical choices.

    If you follow these three rules, it really won't matter where you choose to live
     
  23. heeler

    heeler Member

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    Emm..Depending on locale maybe more with the Grand Jury than the trail court jury.
    Many a man has walked in Texas after a Grand Jury ruled a killing as justifiable homicide,according to the law on the books of our fair state.
    Still,I would rather avoid having to deal with the situation if at ALL possible,the legal system being what it is and all.
     
  24. wideym

    wideym Member

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    I do agree that flyover country courts are more resonable when it comes to self defence shootings. There are exceptions, but mainly I've noticed that charges just aren't filed or grand juries "no bill" defendants in a self defence shooting.

    I have noticed however that large cities in the western and southern states are becoming more and more anti-gun and tend to file charges or at least make self defence shooters lives difficult more often than smaller rural cities and towns.
     
  25. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Succinctly put, and I agree.
     
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