Justified Deadly Force
I just finished reading Chapter 3 of my "Essentials of Criminal Justice" book by Larry Seigel for my Intro to Criminal Justice class and a particular part of the chapter stood out to me. In the section of self-defense it goes a bit into detail of the use of deadly force...
"Persons can be found guilty of murder in the first degree if after being attacked during a brawl they shot and killed an unarmed person in self-defense. The defendant can be found guilty despite the fact that it was the victim who initiated the fray and pummeled his opponent first; the imbalance in weaponry (gun versus fist) would mitigate a finding of self-defense."
Obviously, this is only a single situation, but it got me thinking. Clearly, if someone gives you a sucker punch you don't pull out your carry gun and shoot him, but is that to say that if an argument gets out of hand and the other guy really starts going at you that you cannot pull out your carry gun even after sustaining some serious blows. What if you only display the firearm, is that illegal as well? and what if your involved in a fight with someone and you're at a disadvantage due to physical size or age, does that qualify/disqualify a display or usage of your concealed carry because you're in a fight so therefore both people are wrong and a use of a firearm is illegal no matter what? Basically, when exactly is deadly force justified?
I'm new to this major I'm studying and I'll probably get all these questions answered in other criminal justice courses in my years coming up, but I'd hate to wait that long. If you guys wouldn't mind discussing this I'd love that to add to my preparedness for my major as well as my CCW when I become eligible in a few years.
It comes down to the conditions set by a prosecutor as to reasonable defense compared to the adversary and situation. Outnumbered is one thing, one on one is another and the shift from defender to agressor depends generally on who escalates first and to what degree. *1 has fists #2 gets sucker punched and pulls a gun. #2 has ecalated the situation dramatically. Right and wrong start to fade away and the more prominent arguement becomes justified or not. That then is determined by a reasonable jury based on the arguements posed by the attourneys.
I am not a legal expert nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
What is and isn't justifiable is going to vary from state to state. And even if you are in the right legally, the dearly departedís family is going to sue the pants off of you and either they will take everything you have or you will spend everything you have trying to defend yourself.
If you knew the attacker was trained in hand to hand fighting techniques and he verbalized a threat of deadly force (I'm going to kill you!!!), you would be justified in using deadly force to defend yourself (here in NY anyway). But you'll still have a multi-million dollar judgement hanging over your head for the rest of your life.
I'm 56 and might be good for two or three counter punches before I ran out of gas. If some young buck starts beating on me for no reason I think it will be his last time to pick on an easy mark. I just hope my public defender is pro gun and has a few marbles between his ears. I'm a really mellow fellow and I don't rile up easy so it would be a blatant attack. I'd have to feel like I was in danger for my health before I blew him in half though. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and pick up the pieces later
The Duke said it best!
"A man's got to have a code, a creed to live by. I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."
As was mentioned already the answer to your question depends on what state the incident might take place. Also, you are never going to get a clear cut answer to your question in a CJ textbook. What you are looking for is something one would discuss in law school or in a good legal class at a police academy.
It is not a good idea to add a bunch of other peoples opinions to your legal study.
Originally Posted by Marcus99
Got to +1 with unpecador
I agree with the guys who say you should ask an attorney or your professor. But there are a few general things...
The concept of disparity of force can be a vague one. I'm a fairly small guy at 5'8" and average build. If I got in a fight with a guy who is 5'10", I'd likely be in deep kimchee if I shot him. However, if a 6'5" martial artist starts kicking my head in with engineer boots, I am probably safe to shoot him (and I would, taking my chances with the legal consequences).
If I have martial arts or boxing experience, a jury might look poorly on me going to guns unless the situation were truly dire.
The disabled, the elderly, small-statured women, etc., can all go to guns faster, especially when facing a young, strong opponent. This would probably come up more in the context of a true attack, though, rather than a "brawl," which has connotations of combat by (perhaps tacit) agreement.
I carry pepper spray for a reason.
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I have read a couple books...One by Ayoob that he put out in the 80's and it has lots of good general info...I recently have thought of a scenario that could play out a couple of ways..
I play in a band and I play about 3 or 4 weekends a month..I help our sound guy with the PA and I am the drummer..So I am always the last one to leave...We usually finish playing at 2 a.m. and it is usually 3 a.m. before I am leaving to go home....Suppose some guy was watching and waiting, knowing I just got paid cash from the gig and now I am gonna be alone in the parking lot at 3 a.m.....If he happens to catch me by surprise (I keep myslef very aware of my surroundings and avoid this at all costs) and gets close and pulls a gun and says "give me your money or I will kill you"...If he has the gun drawn and on me and mine is not drawn, I am a sure dead man to try to draw...if I say "no problem" and go into my pocket and get a gun and bring it out and plant a few in his chest, what happens?
I call the cops and say a guy just put a gun to my face and threatened to kill me, I drew my gun which I legally own, registered and have permit to carry and shot this guy...I am sure the cop will see what is what when he (they) get there...I know I will be cuffed and questioned untill they sort it out...#1...I DO NOT drink, so my being impaired will not come into play..I am a musician that just was attempted to be robbed...it looks like a cut and dry case of justification....Suppose the cop/lawyer/judge/jury ask what happened? what was said? and I say that the guy stuck a gun in my face and said give your your money or I will kill you...they will say that if I would have given up the money, the guy might have taken it and walked away with nobody getting shot or dying, but I CHOSE to shoot and took this guy's life....Suppose the gun this guy had was a Co2 pellet pistol he bought at walmart...they look real similar to a glock or XD...I am sure the guy would not let me look at it to confirm it as this is happening...at that moment I have to choose what to do, but no matter what, if I kill this guy and his family hires a lawyer it is gonna be an uphill battle...
Let's say the guy has a knife and he comes up on me and jabs me with it and we scuffle. I pull my gun and shoot the guy...he dies...no witnesses. The family gets a lawyer and says maybe this guy came up and asked me for a smoke and in my panic and being scared I pulled a gun. This guy thought maybe he should defend himself and pulled his knife and was able to stab me and in the end I shot and killed him....In ANY case in ANY state ANYTHING can happen and things can get twisted around...
But I do know that if my life IS in danger and I am able, I will defend myself and do what I gotta do..
Some opinions from a pragmatic viewpoint.
Your grade in your course will depend more on the content of your professor's lectures and assigned reading than what you might know is right.
Regardless of the scenario and local laws, whether or not you are criminally prosecuted in a 'defensive' shooting will have to do more with the judgement of the officers on the scene and the local DA. Even if the prosecutorial pretext is unjustified and the law is on your side, you will be out at least 50k in legal fees.
The only defense against civil suit is Castle Doctrine. Whether or not Castle Doctrine applies depends on the criminal case. Count on another 50k in legal fees.
The only real defense you have is to avoid situations that can result in violent confrontation and de-escalate conflicts if you can. If these options are just not possible, greater safety is in numbers. Surround yourself with buddies you can rely on to step up and do the same for them. This is not to deliver a pounding but for witnesses and to pull the little asshole off you before he can do damage.
PS. Get your NRA membership.
Man I am glad I live in Florida. If it's a justifiable shoot in this state the family can not sue. Pulling a gun (even fake) or knife on someone down here can get you a pine box. Police can pretty well tell what has happen from almost any crime scene. Still going to cost you a small bundle unless it's in your car or home.
Chances are if my situation happens and I feel like this guy is gonna rob me and take off, I will just give up the money...Giving up a couple hundred bucks is better than getting shot or killed or dealing with killing someone. I usually will pull my vehicle up close to where I will be taking the equipment out..Then time is on my side as all the people in the bar are long gone and the parking lot is empty...Only the people from the bar are there cleaning up..I usually will look outside and survey the parking lot before I just blindly walk out...It is only a few steps to the truck and I am in, doors locked and rolling away....I usually keep my cash in a place other than my wallet...in my wallet I keep the small bills (10's, 5's and singles) so if they say give me your wallet, no problem...
Avoidance is top of my list...shooting would be last thing and only if I thought I was gonna get beat to death my multiple guys, a guy with a weapon or stabbed or shot..This is a situation where showing the weapon can diffuse...Guy walks up and says he wants my wallet and I see both hands empty, he would be looking down a barrel in a short time...
Last edited by unpecador; 09-18-2008 at 10:13 PM.
Reason: Expired URL
To make it simple, as I'm on lunch break,
If they are not threatening to end your life, punch back, run.
If they say they are going to kill you, you can ask all the other questions later, if you survive. I know the legal end comes into play, but seriously, if someone told me they were going to kill me, if they said those words... lights out for them.
I liked this answer best so far. It's got good balance to it. The bottom line is that the gun stays in your pants until you have no other choice. It's the tool of last resort. I think even if I were being robbed unless the guy got really agressive it ain't worth the trouble. A few bucks is cheaper than a lawyer any day of the week.
Originally Posted by Mike Barham
So you would let somebody rob you even if you are carrying a gun and as long as the BG doesn't get too aggressive?
Originally Posted by gmaske
Frankly....yes. He's already got the drop on me so if all he really wants is the few bucks in my pocket it ain't wort the escalation and higher risk factor of being cut or shot. If he gets my money and turns his back to leave then it's revenge if I shoot him and were does that leave you when the cops show up? It really depends on if the guy is showing signs that I'm dead meat either way but in that case he would have made his attack already anyway. If you think on it a bit you'll see my point. Just cause I got a gun in my pants doesn't mean I'm Superman all of a sudden.
Originally Posted by unpecador
If you say the BG has already got the drop on you then perhaps you should be more aware of your surroundings. Why would you assume that all the BG wants to do is to take your money? How would you know for sure if the BG won't cut or shoot you anyways? How about taking a few steps back and create some distance in between you and the BG? What have you got to lose if you already assume you're dead meat anyways?
Originally Posted by gmaske
Thought about it more and I've come to the conclusion that you are exactly what the BG ordered... and it appears you would be carrying. You may have a gun in your pants but apparently no balls.
Originally Posted by gmaske
I know just speaking for me...I run those types of scenarios through my head all the time...I am most vulnerable the last 20 minutes when I am at the bar alone loading my car and leaving..When I am loading the car, I have both hands full of drums and I am trying to get done..Usually before that, I am helping our sound guy load his trailer...there are two of us and every trip out I look around the parking lot to see if there is a car sitting or anything weird...Once he leaves, then I go pack my kit up and load it in the car...I make sure the car is the closest to the building as I can get, so I am not walking across a parking lot...but assuming someone is clever and hides in the shadows somehow and when I walk that last 10 feet, he is able to get behind be and the first sound I here is the click from a hammer back and the guy says to stop, not turn around and give me your wallet. at that point even if I had a gun in my hand inside my pocket, I would be hard pressed to pull it, spin around and get a shot off before I get shot. If I have to draw from a holster anywhere on me, that is even that much more...If this guy is nervous he could shoot me even by flinching...So at that point, I have a loaded gun on me and he has his pointed at me..I cannot see him or evaluate anything other than his voice...What are my options?? Give the wallet up to avoid being shot..that is why I keep my cash somewhere else...
Now if I see someone approaching me, I hope that I can read body language and get a feeling of good or bad intent..I try to maintain as much distance as I can and put my own body language out to appear strong and prepaired...here is where a fine line comes in...Usually you pull because of immediate and imminant (sp?) danger...That means a strong verbal threat, a visible weapon, etc,as this person is bearing down on you. This is where a snubby in my hand in my coat pocket could be the quickest presentation and defense...Distance is what I want to maintain, possibly backing up to keep it...If the guy has a club or a knife when he gets close he is gonna see the barrel...whether he gets shot at that point will be his choice...if he has a drawn gun, then other things come into play..No situation is cut and dry...if the guy has a drawn gun and I cannot get mine out, he has the upper hand..if he robs me and turns to walk away, I dont think I can legally shoot him..The immediate threat of my life ending in the eyes of the law is over...deadly force cannot be used...
Lots of things become factors...
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