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Self-defense as a legal defense?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Vince S., Feb 28, 2008.

  1. Vince S.

    Vince S. Resident Former Bassist

    Jan 24, 2003
    I don't want this to turn into a discussion on gun control, so when I say "deadly force", I may be referring to a firearm or another deadly weapon.

    My question is, what is your state's self-defense law? When I was a criminal justice major last year, it was to my understanding that Connecticut uses "self-defense" as a legal defense. Basically, if you kill somebody in self-defense, you are arrested and brought up on murder charges. In court, you use "self-defense" as your legal defense to prove that the person was an imminent danger to your life. We also don't have a Castle doctrine, so our state mandates that we must attempt to flee our own house before using deadly force.

  2. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
    "The best defense is a good offense." - Mel, the cook on Alice

    If a home intruder threatens you in any way, SCREW EM. That's a crime that nobody would tolerate. Violation of your safety, sanctity, sense of trust... nope. The moment someone breaks into your home, it should be perfectly legal for their chest to absorb 12 gauge deer slugs.
  3. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I recently looked into Illinois statute on justified self defense and the thing was a complex nightmare of conditions and exceptions. "You can use this amount of force to stop a person whom you believe to be doing this but only if he's using this and if you're in this type of place unless other people are there in which case it may not be but only under certain blah blah blah............................." It went on for paragraph after paragraph like that. :scowl:

    My martial arts teacher schools us on this topic in a simplified form on a regular basis with the understanding that we'll err on the side of caution, legally speaking. For the most part it means if defending against an assailant with no weapon (like an out of control drunk who's trying to pick a fight) it's always best to do no injury and stick with throwing him to the ground. If you cause injury to a person using martial arts tactics when a simple throw would suffice in that situation, then you'll be the one going to jail for excessive force.

    If an assailant is attacking with a weapon such as a gun, bat, or knife and is clearly trying to hurt you then going after vulnerable targets such as his throat, ribs, groin, knees or even using his own weapon against him is usually fair game.

    The rules for using your own weapon against an assailant are more restrictive and in general, the act of pulling out your weapon against an unarmed assailant leaves you vulnerable to criminal charges, except in very specific circumstances. You should avoid doing this unless you're specifically trained in both the physical and legal aspects of this type of self defense.
  4. It is well to keep in mind the old saying:

    "It is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6."
  5. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    That's why it is sometimes called the Criminal justice system.
  6. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Also, parity in force is still a vague area. What if while you were both unarmed, but you had 50 lbs on the scumbag? Or you work out regularly and can bench 400 lbs? Wouldn't that be considered disproportionate force if you wring the perp with your bare hands too?
  7. Spoiled Grape

    Spoiled Grape I <3 Darkstar

    May 29, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    This is why in most situations, having lots of take-down training is important. Even if someone throws the first punch, it still is incredibly difficult to argue in court how necessary it was for you to knee the person in the head and elbow him where his spinal cord and neck "meet." On the other hand, if you managed to grapple or subdue the opponent, you can probably get away with breaking a bone or two while attempting to put your assailant into submission.
  8. You win post of the month for quoting Mel. Simply awesome.:cool:
  9. Armueller2001


    Sep 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I've looked into it... in Illinois, it says that deadly force can be used to stop or prevent a "forcible felony". A forcible felony is crimes such as murder, aggravated assault, rape, arson, robbery, etc.

    If I wasn't armed, I'd beat the person until they can't move. Then I'd call the cops. If I was armed, its a different story, depends on their level of threat.
  10. We have "castle doctrine" here in MI. We don't have to tolerate criminal intrusion almost anywhere we have a "legal right to be". I can see where that could be a bit murky. Of course, you are responsible to show that your action was correct. As explained by the seargant at our training: "You BETTER BELIEVE you or someone else was in danger of loss of life." He had a few good tibits of info that are very useful. Looking back, there have been very few people charged when defending themselves, especially at home. Prolly has alot to do with finding a jury that would convict a "home defender". Those of you out there that live in "shall issue" states without the back-up of "castle doctrine" should lobby for it. The bigger benefit it provides is the protection from being sued(at least for now) by the criminal or his relatives for money damages. The use of lethal force by a victim is very often the start a loooong and potentially bankrupting process. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I hope NEVER to be in that vortex. Use yer heads out there.
  11. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    Here's the tricky part. Suppose a person is committing a forcible felony such as an assault and you decide to stop him using the "beat the person until they can't move" trick. How many times do you have to hit him until he stops moving? What if he's crippled from the beating and his lawyer claims that he was no longer committing a felony after you hit him the first time because he was bent over in pain, but certainly he was no longer committing a felony and also no longer a threat after you hit him the second time and he fell to his knees. His lawyer will also probably say that the times you hit him after that, causing him to finally lay on the ground motionless was nothing less than felony assault on your part. He's going to own all your **** X10 by the time he's done with you in court.

    If the guy is armed, however, you have far more leeway with which to beat him until he can't move, but you really should be sure that you're capable of winning a fight against an armed street thug with nothing to lose.
  12. I live in Texas, I'm sure I don't even need to explain self-defense laws here.
  13. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    When I was in the Navy I was splitting an apartment in Norfolk with a few other guys. Basically it was a place to store some of our stuff and hopefully be able to take girls back to.

    We were from different ships and so were not all out at sea at the same time very often. One of the times we were all out at sea simultaneously was just for a few days. They were going out while my ship was coming in.

    So I go back to the place when I get back in port...and walk in on a guy stealing the stereo. I beat him till I was tired and then went next door to ask them to call the cops.

    I was assuming that it would go the way it would here in Texas: I tell the cop what the guy was doing. He looks and sees it was true. He congratulates me and takes him away.

    Not so much. If the scumbag had kept his mouth shut, I probably would have gone to jail with him. The cop was so unimpressed with a victim apprehending a criminal that he clearly thought of me as a criminal as well. If the bad guy hadn't made all the noise that he did and pissed the cop off more at him than he was at me, I'm sure I would have been arrested for assault and battery.

    Now back here in Texas, if the same thing happened, I'm pretty sure the cop who responded would look at the situation and give me a high five.
  14. The general trend over here is that regardless of the circumstances, I have committed a crime in defending myself and/or my family by lethally defending myself, and will most likely suffer some consequence (lack of freedom, inability to provide for my family whilst incarcerated, criminal record for life) for choosing to defend myself against a criminal who chose to transgress my sense of safety and peace.

    There have been exceptions to this trend, but they aren't as common, since the reality is over here people tend not to be killed in these situations, just hurt a lot...so the criminals lay complaints against the assailants and the court takes these complaints just as seriously :confused:
  15. CrashBang


    Jan 1, 2008
    Newton, MA
    I actually prefer to use #9 bird shot for my first two loads. This way if you are a little unsteady from the adrenaline you don't kill any family members by acident.

    After that it's loaded with slugs (Plug out when not hunting).
  16. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I have a cricket bat under my bed. That and my 80 pound dog will do some damage.
  17. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    In England and Wales, self defense can be a legal defence, even so far as to protect a defendant in a case where someone has ended up dead because of the act of self defence. However, you may only use "reasonble force" to stop your assailant.

    The courts have refered to "reasonable force" but have refrained from giving guidance as to what constitutes reasonable force, as so to allow sufficient flexibility in criminal proceedings where self defence has been used. However, this doesn't give a very clear indication to the public as to what is considered reasonable.

    I'd say as much as is needed to deter the assailant and no more.
  18. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I agree.

    If someone breaks in to my house and offers harm to my family, then I should use exactly the amount of violence necessary to deter him from doing so ever again and no more.

    Two to the chest, one to the head sounds about right. But I've become kind of a softy in my old age, so I might just go with one to the head.
  19. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    I'll do whatever I think is the right course of action for me and my family's safety at the time, and so that I know that I'll be able to sleep at night with whatever I chose. I'll keep my mouth shut and let my lawyer take care of the fallout. Laws are irrelevant. If you find yourself thinking, "can I legally use lethal force on this guy," then you shouldn't. It should be a self-preservation survival decision, not a legal decision.
  20. The worst part about "reasonable force" is that while defending yourself you have no idea how much force you need until you're using it. Some people have glass jaws other people you could break a baseball bat across their face and they just smile at you and keep coming.

    It's no surprise that people choose to arm themselves to remove this element of doubt.

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