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One More Example of Why it is Essential to Know the Law

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by Kleanbore, Jun 7, 2013.

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  1. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    This recent incident in Washington State underscores the need for all of us to understand the use of force laws in our jurisdictions and in any location in which we might be traveling.

    A citizen fired at a person who was unlawfully taking his automobile, killing him. The shooter has been charged with manslaughter, and he faces up to ten years in prison.

    The author of the article says the following: "Read over the deadly force law and if you don’t understand it, ask around or pay a lawyer for an hour of their time."

    I have to caution on that. You may think that you understand the law, and you may be wrong.

    There's one other tactical lesson, much less important, to be learned here. Do not leave your car unattended with the engine running. Every winter, people in the St. Louis area do just that when they are defrosting their windshields, and every winter, numerous cars are taken.

    It is not a simple thing to learn the local laws, and just reading the printed code will not suffice.

    The safest course of action is to not even think about drawing a gun unless it is necessary to protect oneself or others whom you know. This fellow found that out the hard way.
     
  2. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Yes, and it will indeed vary from one state to another. In most, one can certainly confront a person burglarizing his vehicle or attempting to steal it, and exercise reasonable force to prevent the crime. If the perpetrator makes it clear he is willing and able to cause serious bodily harm or death to the owner to continue carrying out his crime, then the crime itself is, in most jurisdictions (but not all!), escalated to one in which deadly force may be indicated.

    You don't use deadly force on someone because he is trying to steal your truck. You use it because he has demonstrated he is willing to use deadly force on you for it.
     
  3. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    That is a real ticklish matter, though. You really do have to know exactly what your state considers "force" and what crimes meet the standard for using that force in your state, and you have to accept that a very smart criminal can indeed "call your bluff" in various ways and you don't have authority to escalate and/or carry the fight to him. You can become QUITE vulnerable, both physically (which should go without saying but is often overlooked) and legally as well. If you confront a property thief and he ends up dead, you're probably going to court. And in a very real sense, all bets are off.

    If you go out and confront a property thief and he, or his buddies you didn't see, leave you bleeding out on your driveway, you really don't have to worry about the court case.

    ...


    But, more directly to the story at hand, when you run out the door and your truck's already speeding off down the block, that train has sailed, so to speak.
     
  4. sidheshooter

    sidheshooter Member

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    My town; been following the story. Guy screwed the pooch, big time. I feel for him, but firing off a round of 9mm at the back of your truck as it disappears half way down the block is revenge, not self defense.

    He chose his options poorly.
     
  5. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Member

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    Yep bad thing, he defiantly should not have taken the shot. That said, he is the victim. If I were dictator he would be a free man, but I'm not and I doubt he has a good outcome, which is his fault. That was a stupid shot.

    I feel pretty comfortable with my limited knowledge of the law. As I understand it I can use deadly force if I feel my life is in danger, pretty simple really. The thing is, and I don't mean this the way it sounds, I don't really care what the law says. God forbid, If I was to get to the point where I was willing to intentionally fire at any human being I know longer am concerned with the fine points of the law. Self preservation over rides laws, there's an old saying about it being better to be judged than carried.





    I blame all typos on the iPhone auto correct.
     
  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    And to a degree, this is how it MUST be. We have the right -- everywhere -- to stop someone from taking our lives. And when that moment comes, one must not hesitate to act.

    There are two ways this statement can be read, however. And the difference is one we often harp on here, regarding mindset of the defender.

    1) One says, "Am I cleared to shoot?" "May I shoot now?" "Has he crossed the line so I may shoot him?"

    2) The other says, "MUST I shoot?" "Do I have no choice?" "Is this 'shoot or die?'"

    Now, everyone needs to know the law in their state, both black-letter law and also common and case law as it is generally applied to self-defense.

    But the 'jailhouse lawyer' mindset of number one critically hinges on just how well you understood the law and how good your guesses were about how it would be applied in your case. It's attempting to apply a "Rules of Engagement" model to civilian life: "If he crosses that line, I'm cleared hot to end him."

    The second view is the more valid. In this view an attacker forces you to take lethal force action, because life will end if you do not. And this mindset is the one most appropriately expressed in the above quote: If I HAVE to shoot it is because that's the only way I'll be around to face trial. I'll worry about the details of the law if I survive.

    The law in every state is set up to recognize that when a person really must shoot or die, such acts are excused. This model is universal so to a much greater degree it does not require the defender to have a perfect grasp of the law where he's standing. In other words, to act because he MUST, rather than looking for legal justifications for a discretionary action.
     
  7. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    ^^^^^

    A great way to put it....
     
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    It's been said that it's best to err on the side of caution. Long ago...for moral as well as practical reasons...I decided that a thief who has stolen something...even my car...and is making his exit may go in peace, at least as long as it takes for the police to find my car and hopefully, with him still driving it.

    I'll not drop the hammer on him. I won't even point the gun at him and order him to stop. I'll whip out my trusty cell phone and call it in, and maybe ask any witnesses for a description.

    And that's about it.

    Oh, I hear the chest-thumping and declarations of how Joe or Bob would bust a cap in his backside bygod...and if they're serious about that, they're gonna be in for a very bumpy ride, even if they walk out of the courtroom free men...which they probably won't.

    Even if the law allowed shooting a man to keep him from making good his escape after liftin' my laptop...it's not worth it, and there's no moral justification for shooting him.

    I will only use lethal force to protect life or prevent serious injury. Period.
     
  9. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    I have said here often: In the courtroom, sitting at the defendant's table, is the LAST place you want to get your legal education.
     
  10. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Member

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    Fred, I have to disagree, sitting in the courtroom watching the trial of the person who killed your loved one be a worse way to get a legal education. The defendants chair would be second.

    Think of Susan Hupp, and how she got her legal education. She could have carried her weapon but broke the law and got the education another way but she didn't, and I believe she regrets it.


    I understand the person in the OP wasn't in such a situation, and there in lies his problem. Killing a man for theft is not justice, an eye for an eye is justice but a life for a truck is not. But when a victim does something stupid in the heat of the moment while being victimized by a criminal I'll give a pass. But as stated I don't matter.
     
  11. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The subject at hand is use of force law.

    Learned people have decided over many centuries that society cannot allow that. Hence, the crime of manslaughter.
     
  12. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey Member

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    Not sure if this applies exactly to this thread but I have noticed a disturbing trend of people getting on the net and asking for legal advice on gun forums (not so much here as other forums).

    Do not get your legal advice from the net, look up the relevant law and read it for your self, if it doesn’t make sense (as KB said) consult a lawyer.
     
  13. j1

    j1 Member

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    Amen.
     
  14. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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  15. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Actually, even if you THINK it makes sense, consult a lawyer.

    What a layperson comprehends when reading a few lines of black letter law, and how that law will be applied are often QUITE different.

    If you look at any of our threads on "Stand Your Ground" and "Castle Doctrine" laws, you'll see just how often folks get crossed up by reading a law and thinking that a plain word, expansive understanding of it is sufficient to know how it applies. Almost always dead wrong.
     
  16. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Texas alone does excuse the use of deadly force when necessary to recover stolen property immediately after a theft at night.

    The state thought his actions criminal but was unable to prove that to the triers of fact.

    So he was acquitted, three and a half years after the fact.

    His losses certainly exceeded $150 by a large multiplier.
     
  17. F-111 John

    F-111 John Member

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    About the only place I can think of where that would be lawful would be in Texas. At night.
     
  18. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    hopefully a jury sees it a little different than the authorities did.
     
  19. Sol

    Sol Member

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    I'm not too clear on the laws in my state (Ohio) but I don't think deadly force is used or justified on the theft or destruction of property.
     
  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    I see no reason to expect that.
     
  21. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Here's a more complete account.

    This also brings to mind the manslaughter conviction several years ago in King County, WA of a man who used a Moisin Nagant to shoot someone who was making off with a sub woofer from the shooter's car.
     
  22. kgpcr

    kgpcr Member

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    Its real simple for me. If my life or that of my family is in danger I am going to do what ever it takes to protect them. If there is any way I can get by with out shooting I will not shoot. I don't think its all that complicated. Or at least it should not be. I don't really care about the fine points of the law as I will only shoot in critical self defense situations. If I break a law well I will deal with it them because I would be dead if I did not shoot. Really simple for me
     
  23. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe that's the best way to teach it.

    But someone, somewhere, will make it more complicated and get into big trouble.

    So, might I suggest inserting "immediate" just before "danger", to eliminate the "he might come back" argument before it starts.

    I think we may have a winner here.

    But someone will ask, "in imminent danger of what?". The answer is "death or serious bodily harm, the latter including sexual assault." But then comes the question, "how about a punch?"

    And "if I cannot use deadly force to protect property, what do I do in the case of robbery?"

    And so on.

    So the default poison is don't shoot unless you have too, but it's still a good idea to know the law
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
  24. cassandrasdaddy

    cassandrasdaddy Member

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    a quote from mr Gerlach
    wish I could live it all over again," Gerlach told Detective Ben Estes after the shooting. When Estes asked why, Gerlach replied, "20/20 is hindsight."
     
  25. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Juries are supposed to see the facts of the case and apply the law accordingly, as the laws are written, not vote not guilty because they think one way or the other.
     
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