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Thread: Should you be excused for not knowing what the law is?

  1. #1
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Should you be excused for not knowing what the law is?

    http://allenbwest.com/2015/05/will-c...he-owns-a-gun/

    That URL is rather misleading when describing what happened. Guy from NC goes to NJ. Does not check to see if his NC CHP is any good in NJ. Then gets involved in a road rage incident with a guy who may (based on the clothing he is wearing) be a gangbanger. Guy first displays his pistol, then later retrieves his rifle from his vehicle and displays that.

    Besides not checking to see if he could bring a gun to NJ (apparently all the incidents of folks getting arrested for doing that are not making the rounds to all/most gun owners) he displays a pistol and then, while he is outside his vehicle, retrieves a rifle and displays that. I am not positive but it seems there was at least one opportunity for him to just drive away.

    I'm putting this in General Discussion instead of NJ because of several issues I think apply to everybody:
    - obviously, know the law. It ca be a PITA to find it but part of being a LAC is knowing what you have to do/not do in order to be law-abiding.
    - generally, displaying your firearm is not a great idea. The old saying "If you pull it shoot it" is worth considering. I understand that puts a person way behind in the action/reaction curve but many times that is just something we need to live with.
    - "Never leave the boat." Well, OK, if your "boat" is being riddled with gunfire it might be OK. But unless there is information we are not being given it seems this guy had at least one opportunity to just drive away.
    - Remember, the first person to call the cops is identified as "victim". Hand your phone to the passenger (if you have one) and tell them to dial 911 and report the incident. You may have to break the law against using a cellphone while driving and talk to the police yourself. But it's far better to be listed as "victim" than Perp #1 .

    As someone once told me, "your brain is there to do more than keep your ears apart."

    stay safe.
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    All very good points.

    Texas once had laws which differentiated "threat of deadly force" from "use of deadly force", and there were conditions where you could threaten but not use deadly force. This was probably a very bad idea, but it reflects this guy's likely thinking. "If I show him a gun, he might leave me alone." But I would postulate that this action is just as likely to escalate the situation rather than diffuse it.

    And who doesn't know NJ has very restrictive gun laws? I think every Texas knows that (whether it is true of not.)

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post

    And who doesn't know NJ has very restrictive gun laws?
    At least 3 people. And 4 if you count the NJ guy who put his guns in the trunk and stopped off to see momma?/grandma? on the way from his old place of residence to his new place of residence.

    stay safe.
    "He'll regret it to his dying day....if ever he lives that long."----The Quiet Man

    Because stupidity isn't a race, and everybody can win.

    "No matter how much contempt you have for the media in all this, you don't have enough"
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    We should be absolutely excused for not knowing what the law is. After all, the cops and lawyers don't know what every law is on the books, how can joe and jane public be expected to know more than them.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Dog View Post
    We should be absolutely excused for not knowing what the law is. After all, the cops and lawyers don't know what every law is on the books, how can joe and jane public be expected to know more than them.
    Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    "The rationale of this maxim is that if ignorance of law was an excuse then any person charged with a criminal offense or subject of a civil suit can claim that he or she was unaware of the law in question and avoid liability."
    http://definitions.uslegal.com/i/ignorance-of-law/
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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Dog View Post
    We should be absolutely excused for not knowing what the law is. After all, the cops and lawyers don't know what every law is on the books, how can joe and jane public be expected to know more than them.
    Do what you feel like when you feel like it where you feel like it because it's too much trouble to look up at least the basic laws? What kind of self-responsibility is that?

    Cops are excused because, among other reasons, they are only held responsible for what their department trains/educates them When the department fails to train/educate on established law the department is held liable and pays compensation with taxpayer dollars. Responder superior.

    Then the courts have decided that if the ignorance causes minimum harm (whatever that might be) the cops can get away with it because thy were acting "in good faith".

    IMHO the guy would not have been busted for illegal possession of guns if he had not started beating his chest and displaying his guns. Even though there may not be a legal obligation to disengage and retreat, there is much to suggest it as a tactic unless you are actually in what you consider imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. Again IMHO a guy getting out of his car and waving his hands about while mouthing off is not being in imminent danger. YMMV.

    stay safe.
    "He'll regret it to his dying day....if ever he lives that long."----The Quiet Man

    Because stupidity isn't a race, and everybody can win.

    "No matter how much contempt you have for the media in all this, you don't have enough"
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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    "The rationale of this maxim is that if ignorance of law was an excuse then any person charged with a criminal offense or subject of a civil suit can claim that he or she was unaware of the law in question and avoid liability."
    http://definitions.uslegal.com/i/ignorance-of-law/
    If I recollect right. This ignorance was not to be applied to positive law but to mal en se, laws against natures law.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    If I recollect right. This ignorance was not to be applied to positive law but to mal en se, laws against natures law.
    The original observations about the maxim ignorantia juris non excusat, as related by Cicero and Plato, generally referred to matters which were malum in se. However, the law also tends to presume that anyone handling a dangerous instrumentality - like a gun or a car - should be familiar with the related law.
    Open carry is a First Amendment exercise.

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    Activist Member JamesCanby's Avatar
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    Those of us who keep and bear arms have the responsibility to know the laws of the locale (city, county and state) in which we do so. While that may not be as much of a problem for Texans or Alaskans (where one can drive for days without leaving the state) it is also important to know how the laws differ from your home state. From where I live in Virginia, I can be in any one of several different states in less than two hours (and in DC or Maryland inside of 15 minutes). Have I studied and know the firearms laws of MD, DC, WV, PA and NC? You bet your sweet azz I do!

    Not only must legal carriers know the law to stay OUT of trouble, they must also know the law to know when the LEO is wrong and tries to "suggest" compliance with HIS understanding of the law.
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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werz View Post
    The original observations about the maxim ignorantia juris non excusat, as related by Cicero and Plato, generally referred to matters which were malum in se. However, the law also tends to presume that anyone handling a dangerous instrumentality - like a gun or a car - should be familiar with the related law.
    Oh thats understandable. Driving unsafely would be against natural law. Makes sense. It still would reside in the proper negative realm.

    If I remember correctly it was statist like Bentham who pushed for positive ignorance is no excuse. Which is contrary to natural law. If a town makes wearing a blue shirt punishable by life in prison and I happen to enter said town unaware of law. Claiming ignorance of said positive law is no excuse would be immoral and repugnant.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    Oh thats understandable. Driving unsafely would be against natural law. Makes sense. It still would reside in the proper negative realm.

    If I remember correctly it was statist like Bentham who pushed for positive ignorance is no excuse. Which is contrary to natural law. If a town makes wearing a blue shirt punishable by life in prison and I happen to enter said town unaware of law. Claiming ignorance of said positive law is no excuse would be immoral and repugnant.
    +1

    And, it can be taken further: when government deceives or omits.

    Remember several years ago where we discussed here briefly the case of the teen arrested for denying police access to his home?

    The story was something like teen throwing a party (while mom and dad gone?). Rowdy boys got to yelling. Neighbor called police, reporting a fight or something. Cops show up, demand access to check if anybody hurt in reported fight (under the community caretaking exception). Teen--who knows nobody's hurt because nobody's been fighting--blocks front door with his body, refusing police access without a warrant. Cops drag him to front yard, arrest him for obstruction, sweep the house for injured. Charges later dropped.

    C'mon. We're all taught in school that police need a warrant to search a home. But, it turns out they don't. There's a number of exceptions to the warrant clause that permit police warrantless entry into a private home. Exercise what the government school taught you were your rights, and you end up with an arrest on your record that you have to disclose on every job application for the rest of your life.

    Separately, James Madison wrote in Federalist #62: "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood." (emphasis by Citizen)

    Of course, the real problem is the desire or willingness to coerce peaceful others. You can't make the power to coerce effective unless you create another lie (ignorance is no excuse) to close the loopholes inherent in the first lie. First you have to lie to yourself (or others) that it is legitimate to coerce people. Then, to prevent some of them escaping from your coercion, you have to create the lie that ignorance is no excuse.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    The community caretaking exception does not apply to homes

    AZ: The community caretaking exception does not apply to homes
    Posted on June 5, 2015 by Hall http://fourthamendment.com/?p=17575

    The community caretaking exception does not apply to homes, citing conflicting authorities. Here, defendant was believed by the police to have an excessive amount of mercury in his house, something not contraband. A firefighter trained in hazardous materials entered the house to look for it and found a small quantity of marijuana, and defendant was charged with that. The entry was unlawful. State v. Wilson, 2015 Ariz. LEXIS 188 (June 3, 2015), lower court op. 235 Ariz. 447, 333 P.3d 774 (App. 2014): [Emphasis mine. More ... long]
    Last edited by Nightmare; 06-06-2015 at 05:37 PM.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    AZ: The community caretaking exception does not apply to homes
    Posted on June 5, 2015 by Hall http://fourthamendment.com/?p=17575

    The community caretaking exception does not apply to homes, citing conflicting authorities. Here, defendant was believed by the police to have an excessive amount of mercury in his house, something not contraband. A firefighter trained in hazardous materials entered the house to look for it and found a small quantity of marijuana, and defendant was charged with that. The entry was unlawful. State v. Wilson, 2015 Ariz. LEXIS 188 (June 3, 2015), lower court op. 235 Ariz. 447, 333 P.3d 774 (App. 2014): [Emphasis mine. More ... long]
    I saw the same.

    I don't know how far reaching this will be.

    For example, police can already go to a home on a 911 hang-up call, and look in the windows. Or, say, late at night, if they see a front door ajar, they can enter to see if there is a burglary or some such.

    Of course, its all smoke-and-mirrors because the real question isn't whether it was legal for police to enter, but whether the crime evidence they then found was admissible. All SCOTUS had to do was say police could enter, but evidence of other offenses could not be used in court. This would allow police to help people, but also still protect the 4A and the warrant requirement.

    For example, if police are called by a neighbor hearing a child screaming in pain, the police could look in the windows and see the child trapped under a bureau, and enter to save the child. Evidence of child abuse/neglect could be admissible (or not), but momma's bong on the table the police walked past would not be admissible.

    Heck, SCOTUS has been splitting these hairs for so long, they could have easily spent the same amount of time sorting out what to do with that illegal bong. For example, seize it as contraband and dispose of it without being able to charge momma. In these intervening years SCOTUS could have split the hairs even finer by saying the bong could be used as evidence of child abuse/neglect, but the bong was not a chargeable offense because its presence was discovered during a warrantless entry. All that rather than looking for ways to bash loopholes in the Fourth Amendment.
    Last edited by Citizen; 06-06-2015 at 06:13 PM.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    I am on a tenterhook, wanting so badly to put the titular ledah of our EMS personally on trespass notice for also being the junior cop and a proactive enforcer.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    -snipped--
    Exercise what the government school taught you were your rights, and you end up with an arrest on your record that you have to disclose on every job application for the rest of your life.
    I believe that it is improper to ask or require information about arrests - convictions not so much. OTOH I have not delved into this recently.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    I believe that it is improper to ask or require information about arrests - convictions not so much. OTOH I have not delved into this recently.
    I would tend to agree; arrests vs convictions and all that. However, apparently some industries do ask. For example, banking.

    The worst part is...well, let me frame it as a question. You're a busy personnel manager. You got ten applications in front of you. One of them has an arrest. Are you going to spend any time digging into that application when you got nine others that don't?

    The problem is less whether its proper to ask--the private market employer is free to be as smart or dumb as he wants, and suffer the consequences. The bigger problem is law enforcement officer vs peace officer. And, a vast sea of malum pro se laws.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    I believe that it is improper to ask or require information about arrests - convictions not so much. OTOH I have not delved into this recently.
    Prospective employer can ask about convictions. Arrests are off limits because they are not probative of mis- or malfeasance or moral turpitude. And as we all know, the prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.

    stay safe.
    "He'll regret it to his dying day....if ever he lives that long."----The Quiet Man

    Because stupidity isn't a race, and everybody can win.

    "No matter how much contempt you have for the media in all this, you don't have enough"
    ----Allahpundit

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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    Prospective employer can ask about convictions. Arrests are off limits because they are not probative of mis- or malfeasance or moral turpitude. And as we all know, the prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.

    stay safe.
    Are you saying asking about arrests is illegal?
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Pre-Employment Inquiries and Arrest & Conviction

    http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/inquiries_arrest_conviction.cfm


    Federal and Virginia law place some limits on employer use of criminal records.


    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encycloped...n-records.html
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Pre-Employment Inquiries and Arrest & Conviction

    http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/inquiries_arrest_conviction.cfm


    Federal and Virginia law place some limits on employer use of criminal records.


    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encycloped...n-records.html
    Thank you.

    Those are...slight, very slight...good news.

    So, according to the EEOC website, if I have two applicants with arrests or convictions, I may not make my decision based on who has fewer arrests or convictions. But, if I am the personnel manager and have two applicants of which one has an arrest or conviction, I may discriminate against that one.

    Under VA state law, I could omit to list an expunged arrest, and--it seems--could not legally be fired if that expunged arrest is later discovered. Of course, I'd have to sue my employer: a wonderful action for maintaining harmony with the executives and supervisors.

    Of course, how the employee or applicant of a small company (or even a large one) is supposed to establish he was discriminated against on the basis of his arrest or conviction is another question. All I will know is that I didn't get hired. I could spend thousands of dollars in discovery legal fees only to find out the other applicant was just enough qualified to make the issue less than clear.

    Thus, very slight good news. It seems as though I might win a lawsuit if my employer fired me for omitting to disclose an expunged conviction on my job application. Assuming my employer was dumb enough to give that as the reason instead of some other plausible reason in VA which is an at-will state.
    Last edited by Citizen; 06-06-2015 at 10:18 PM.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

  21. #21
    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Should we be excused? Yes. Will we be excused, likely not. Unless you are a cop...of course.

    These days, a cop can destroy your life and then be excused for all of the carnage he wrought in your life, because he had a slight misunderstanding of the law that he thought granted him the authority to intiate first contact with the soone to be savaged citizen. Then, we are then told, by the state, to take the check, if we get one, and be satisfied. Because money will bring back the dead, heal the mangled bodies, and bring rain to drought ridden Kaliforistan.

    Eliminate QI and all exemptions in the laws that cops enjoy.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    Thank you.

    Those are...slight, very slight...good news.
    Good news for whom? Do these laws not infringe the right of employers to conduct their business as they see fit?

    From an anarchist/libertarian perspective why shouldn't an employer be perfectly free to discriminate based on arrests, hair color, eye color, political affiliation, or any other trait he wants to? It is his business after all and so long as he isn't infringing anyone else's rights, why can't he have whatever hiring and firing practices he desires?

    Charles
    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
    --Marxist.org

    "Communism and Anarchy [are], a necessary complement to one another. "
    --PETER KROPOTKIN, "Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal." 1898.

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    Should vs reality

    To the OP:

    At the practical level, we absolutely must know what the law is as we will be held to held to account. This is reality. It is very expensive reality to forget or wish away.

    But what should the matter be? What if every State and city were allowed to have different laws regarding what books could be read, and what religious practices were permitted? Can you imagine having to check State and local laws every time you traveled to make sure you were ok to display a particular religious or political bumper sticker on your car?

    At least when we are talking about constitutionally enumerated rights, there should be a minimum level of legal respect across the entire nation. Some States might choose to higher level of respect, but no State should be permitted to infringe enumerated rights any more than some national standard. When it comes to RKBA, there should be a minimum standard good nationwide. Stay within that and you are legal wherever you go that the US flag is flying. For sake of simple example (not to suggest I think this should be the standard), maybe States are allowed to have bars and schools be off limits, and the person with a gun must have a permit to carry issued by a government authority somewhere in the nation. States are free to allow permit-free carry, and to allow guns in bars and schools if they want to. But the guy with a permit in his pocket who avoids carrying into bars and schools would be in a nationwide safe harbor.

    As for other laws in general, I believe there should be a standard of "knowingly and willfully" required before a conviction could be obtained under many laws. All mentally competent adults should understand that certain conduct is wrong and likely to be illegal: conduct that harms or endangers others. Certain fields require education and certification to make sure those engaged in them do know the law.

    But when a person can be convicted for walking on endangered dirt, filling in a small seasonal pond (aka mud hole) on his own property, selling raw milk to a neighbor (under full disclosure the milk is raw), and so on, then at the very least there needs to be the protection of illegal conduct being knowingly and willfully. Quite likely, a whole bunch of laws simply need to be repealed.

    Charles
    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
    --Marxist.org

    "Communism and Anarchy [are], a necessary complement to one another. "
    --PETER KROPOTKIN, "Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal." 1898.

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