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Thread: Regarding firearm for self defense and "proving innocence"

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    I often hear/read people discussing the liabilities in using a firearm in self defense, and the potential legal repercussions that may come with it. I am aware that self defense laws vary greatly, state by state, but I live in the state of Washington, and am well aware of the self defense laws here, including use of force, when justified, and justifiable homicide. It's not really a gray area. State law is very clear.

    My question is more so asking for your opinion. Why do you feel that there are more people who are immediately more concerned with potential legal repercussions of their actions? How many state's have such a gray and shady area of self defense?

    I often hear people saying how you'll have to "prove yourself innocent in front of a jury."

    In all of the articles and news broadcasts that I've read and watched, I have never once heard of a case where an individual, who truly and justifiably defended there self against an attacker, who also had to prove his innocence in front of a jury. In every case I have read or watched, the prosecutor did not even bring up charges on the individual. Usually, if the prosecutor brings up charges, then that prosecutor has reasonable evidence to believe you truly did not act within self defense, or used more force than necessary.

    If, by chance that the prosecutor was wrong in his/her charges, and you truly were innocent, then your chances of convincing a jury would seem pretty good, as long as you're completely truthful about the situation, don't fabricate evidence, and don't overly mix your story up. I have a friend who is a prosecuting attorney, and he said that it's actually normal for a story to get mixed up a little bit, considering the heat of the moment, and the fact that you may not be thinking too clearly when giving your description of the incident.

    Anyway, what are your opinions on true self defense cases that actually make it to trial VS ones that aren't even prosecuted at all? It seems very 90-10 to me, with 90% of them not even getting prosecuted in the first place. At least where I'm from, and their sources.

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    Regular Member bigdaddy1's Avatar
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    The use of deadly force is not one to be taken lightly. I for one hope I never have to know what its like to use it. In Wisconsin (a criminal friendly state) if you shoot someone even in your own home you will have to prove that you did so in self defence. No castle doctrine here. We are not given the "privilege" of self defence. We also (because of no castle doctrine) have to be concerned about the civil action taken by the family of the criminal. It is a sad fact that the family can sue you for killing their precious relative while they areattempting to kill you.

    I am sure others will add to this, but that is why the legal repercussions are a major concern.
    What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?

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    Thanks for your input. I'm just trying to get perspectives from other states. Maybe I just take the Castle Doctrine for granted, considering Washington has one. Washington seems to be a very self defense friendly state, and I'm fortunate for that. Reading stories from others who come from not-so-friendly states really help open the eyes.

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    I am pretty sure that if a prosecutor takes a case to court involving an affirmative defense of self-defense, he has to have serious reason to believe that it was not a case of self-defense.

    If it is a toss-up, he isn't going to bother to try the shooter. He'll try cases that he believes he has a good shot to win.

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    Just to play it safe, should you have to shoot someone in self defense, it's a good idea to tell the police when they arrive "I shot in self defense. I have nothing else to say without an attorney present." Don't hang yourself by misspeaking, sometimes the little things that come out might be enough to incite prosecution in a situation like that.

    Don't talk to the police, part 1 and 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE

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    I'd even skip the first sentence and just say, "I have nothing to say without my attorney present."

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    NightOwl wrote:
    Just to play it safe, should you have to shoot someone in self defense, it's a good idea to tell the police when they arrive "I shot in self defense. I have nothing else to say without an attorney present." Don't hang yourself by misspeaking, sometimes the little things that come out might be enough to incite prosecution in a situation like that.

    Don't talk to the police, part 1 and 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE
    Seems funny for me, considering I'm testing to become a police officer.

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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    NightOwl wrote:
    Just to play it safe, should you have to shoot someone in self defense, it's a good idea to tell the police when they arrive "I shot in self defense. I have nothing else to say without an attorney present." Don't hang yourself by misspeaking, sometimes the little things that come out might be enough to incite prosecution in a situation like that.

    Don't talk to the police, part 1 and 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE
    Seems funny for me, considering I'm testing to become a police officer.
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    lol

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    My question is more so asking for your opinion. Why do you feel that there are more people who are immediately more concerned with potential legal repercussions of their actions?
    Because just about everywhere the killing of a human being is a crime. You may be either "justified" or "excused" for killing another human being, but only after you have 1) admitted you are guilty of killing another human being and 2) presented your legal case to prove your actions qualify for justification or excuse.

    In other words, there are going to be legal ramifications. The question is merely one of how much time, energy, and money are you going to need to spend dealing with those ramifications. Some places send all killings to the Grand Jury and have very few that were claimed to be self defense reported out as True Bills. No further criminal action and who knows if a civil suit will or will not be filed against the person who killed another human being, although either justified or excusable on grounds of self defense. Other jurisdictions seem to make sure every alleged kiling of another human being in self defense gets a full criminal trial before there is a decision whether it could be ruled excusable or justified. And even if it is ruled as justified or excusable you might face a civil lawsuit.

    Just my take on the question, but that's why I feel people are immediately concerned with potential legal repercussions of their actions in a self defense killing of another human being.

    stay safe.

    skidmark

    * Yes, I purposely went heavy-handed on repeating "the killing of another human being" because that's what is behind the OP's question. We need to remember that.
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    Here in Washington, I don't believe I've ever heard of a true case of self defense homicide that has gone to trial. It must truly sucks to live in a jurisdiction where a prosecutor would be quick to jump the gun and make a case out of something like this. It's one thing to weigh out the evidence on both sides to truly investigate if there was a crime committed. That's understandable. It's completely different when the prosecutor goes out of his way to criminally charge someone who justifiable defended there self, even when the evidence is against them (the prosecutor).

    I remember a specific case a while back, where a man was jumped in the city of Seattle. The man was who jumped him was "unarmed" but had knocked the victim to the ground. Upon falling down, the man drew his firearm, shot, and killed the attacker. Police eventually took him to the station for questioning, but he was let go after it was ruled as justifiable self defense. Prosecutors never filed charges, and the case never saw the court room. I can't find the specific article, but it's around somewhere.



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    Regular Member okboomer's Avatar
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    There is also this demonstration of miscarriage of justice Harold Fish convictionthat was finally overturned.
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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    Seems funny for me, considering I'm testing to become a police officer.
    Isn't that the first cop rule they teach?

    video

    You have a right to remain silent, exercise it.


    At our Jacksonville Criminal Law Firm, many of our cases begin with our client talking to the police. Some criminal clients invoke their right to remain silent, but a majority do talk to the police and try to explain their side of the story. Talking to the police is almost always a detriment to a criminal suspect. The police wear handcuffs for a reason. Their job is to put you in jail.

    Recently, there was a suspect shot by police at the Wendy's on Baymeadows Road. Police shot 42 times in a carjacked car that had 3 innocents in it as well as the suspect. Two of the innocents, one child, are in the hospital with gunshot wounds at the hands of these police officers. Baymeadows Road was shut down for around 8 hours so an investigation could be conducted. Not an investigation about the carjacking, the suspect was dead. Law enforcement was supposed to be investigating the police shooting.

    Today is 6 days after the incident and the police officers who shot into the car still have not given a formal statement about what happened. They "lawyered up". They will not talk to any law enforcement agency without discussing the case in detail with their union attorney.

    When police interrogate civilian suspects, they almost always tell them to simply tell the truth. "If you don't have anything to hide, why wouldn't you talk to us?" is the line that is commonly used by police. If this is true, why don't the police officers involved in a police shooting simply "tell the truth".

    taken from here

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    Regular Member Nevada carrier's Avatar
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    Seems funny for me, considering I'm testing to become a police officer.
    Were you tought all the valuable techniques that police officers employ to trick people into making incriminating statements or forfeiting their rights yet? or is that off the record OJT type stuff?

    LAC: May I help you officer?
    LEO: Holy cow, it wreaks of marijuana in your car... is this you child in the car seat?
    LAC: Yes.
    LEO: You don't seriously smoke pot around your doughtier do you?
    LAC: No officer.

    In this simple dialog I just demonstrated two responses to a LEO question that can be used in court to show reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

    The first LEO question was "Wow, it wreaks of marijuana in there, is this your child?" If the person being questioned simply said yes, what is it he said yes to? The smell of pot or that it's his child? Now the officer has suspicion.

    The second question, "You don't smoke pot around your children do you?" What did the officer ask and what did the suspect answer? That he doesn't smoke pot or that he doesn't smoke pot around his daughter? Now the LEO has probable cause.

    Bottom line, don't answer questions from LEO's, they are usually designed to get you to give them the answer they want to hear not the answer you want to give. Cops are trained to suspect that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, Trying to prove your innocence in a system that must assume innocence until proven guilty can only make things more difficult.

    The number one LIE a police officer will tell you, "If you cooperate, I can help you." A police officer is interested in one thing, Furthering his career and advancing his pay grade by gathering evidence, making arrests and assisting prosecutors in getting convictions. Your Rights, best interests and well being count for less than snail @#$% to a police officer. While you are getting booked in into the county jail, he and his buddies will be sharing a beer and a laugh at your expense because officer pinhead just got another gold star and that much closer to his next promotion.
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    The right to remain silent carries with it the responsibility for the consequences when someone chooses not to remain silent. Don't blame the officer when someone ignorantly waives his rights.

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    I agree Only to a degree. Without saying exactly what happened; I want to say that I legitimately escape certain prosecution by talking to police officers. I was pulled over and had some serious issues with my plate, registration, and insurance. I don't want to write a 2 page story; so I'll wrap this up. I Could have been arrested and my vehicle definitely Could have been impounded. I was very polite, saying "Sir" after literally everything. I kept my tone calm and collected- never raised my voice. I was sincere in my apology... The officers whom approached me had decided to head back to the patrol car and run my information. I had several other officers come up to my car during this time and play the Good Cop Bad Cop "where were you going" "what house?" "What friend?" "You know this is a bad neighborhood?" blah blah just talking the talk. I remained calm and answered every question; except when the officers requested information about my destination- I politely explained I didn't know the exact address and had always driven there by memory.

    Well to make a long story short; The officers let me go with the First and Only warning that I have EVER ever ever heard of and LITERALLY None of my friends have ever even Seen a Denver "warning" and never heard of anybody getting off on a warning- specially for what I did wrong.


    I actually got a warning. Instead of jail and getting my vehicle impounded. All I did was talk. If I had kept my mouth shut; I would have gone to jail and they could have searched through my car too! :shock: Instead- I actually protected my 4th Amendment rights by waving my 5th. I talked and avoided an impound which automatically makes my vehicle subject to police search. Which Could have landed me in a WHOLE LOT more trouble.

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    I don't really feel I'm at liberty to say. It should be up to each individual to use their own judgment on what decisions they make when it comes to talking to the police, but I can say that Nevada is on to the right idea. Don't go out violating the law and you shouldn't have to worry about answering questions from the police. Obviously if you're smoking marijuana in your vehicle, especially with your children present, you should be arrested, and charged, as it's a clear violation. I wouldn't defend the "suspect" and teach him what to say to narrow his chances of being charged. That's why I'm going in to law enforcement rather than practicing law.

    Have you been reading "I Know You Are Lying" by Mark McClish?

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    Regular Member buster81's Avatar
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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    Don't go out violating the law and you shouldn't have to worry about answering questions from the police.
    If I haven't violated the law, the police shouldn't have to worry about questioning me. Simple.

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    I agree for the most part, although there are other reasons why they could be questioning you as well.

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    And then, there are the LEO that are looking for a reason to write the ticket, issue the summons, handcuff you and haul you to jail, no matter what your answers.

    I agree that it does have to be taken on a case-by-case basis ... if the officer is in a half-way decent mood, giving him a reason to laugh, stroking his ego just a little and you may be able to drive away with a warning rather than the ticket.

    Of course, as a woman, I can generally get off with a warning when speeding ... as long as I immediately and completely admit to the infraction. I have been known to pull over when the HP going the other way flips his lights on, even before he gets turned around. Several times they have asked me why I did that, and each time I told him something along the lines of: "I saw you, looked down and realized that I was speeding, looked in the mirror and saw your lights come on, so I pulled over because I didn't want you to have to chase me. There is no way I want to contribute to you having a bad day or anything like that." Only one time this didn't work, but the officer told me that he had to write the ticket because we were still inside city limits.

    This doesn't mean that I will not dispute an officer trying to buffalo me into admitting that I did something I didn't. One officer had me dead to rights on 5mph over, but he tried to say that I also crossed the double yellow line. I told him, "No sir, I did not! My left tires might have kissed the yellow line, but I absolutely did not cross it!" The only thing that I got was a warning for the crack in the windshield ... on the passenger side as interferring with drivers vision. Yep, I'll take that warning

    When talking to my local PD, it depends on whether I have done anything wrong or not. Then, I will make a formal statement at their office, not write it up in the field. As it is, lately, I generally have video or audio to support my position. I used to rely on witnesses, but I realized that I would basically be at their mercy as far as what they remember, or if they have time to do it.

    Also, if you have video or audio of something that LEO wants a statement from you about, I would suggest that you might want to consult an attorney before talking to LEO and never, never, NEVER let them have the original! Once that original leaves your hands (or your attorneys') you will not be able to testify in court that it is still in it's original state because you really don't know what kind of manipulation or editing might have been done while out of your control.
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    Regular Member Nevada carrier's Avatar
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    Obviously if you're smoking marijuana in your vehicle, especially with your children present, you should be arrested, and charged, as it's a clear violation.
    The situation I described happened to someone who was pulled over driving his car late at night who does not and has never smoked weed. He could not get his daughter to fall asleep, but he knows that a car ride usually does the trick, so that's all he was doing.

    The officer was simply fishing for someone to give him enough reason to trample their rights, probably subscribing to some asinine theory that "everyone is guilty of something, you just have to find out what it is."

    And cops have no clue why 25 year old black men turn and walk the other way when they see them coming; guilty of a crime or not.
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    Nevada carrier wrote:
    Obviously if you're smoking marijuana in your vehicle, especially with your children present, you should be arrested, and charged, as it's a clear violation.
    The situation I described happened to someone who was pulled over driving his car late at night who does not and has never smoked weed. He could not get his daughter to fall asleep, but he knows that a car ride usually does the trick, so that's all he was doing.

    The officer was simply fishing for someone to give him enough reason to trample their rights, probably subscribing to some asinine theory that "everyone is guilty of something, you just have to find out what it is."

    And cops have no clue why 25 year old black men turn and walk the other way when they see them coming; guilty of a crime or not.
    I have many officer friends who would never do that. In fact, I've never personally met an officer who fishes for ways to give tickets or criminal charge someone. I know they're out there, but I've never encountered any myself.

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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    I agree for the most part, although there are other reasons why they could be questioning you as well.
    I have other reasons I'm not interested in answering them.

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    Other reasons could be anything. You could be a witness to a crime. You could be a victim of a crime. There's many reasons why an officer may be asking you questions without trying to get you in trouble with the law.

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    Regular Member bigdaddy1's Avatar
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    Dont take it as a personal attack Aaron, many people have a distrust of the police. From when we were children and the police were the ultimate authroity then. If your going to become a cop, become a good one
    What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?

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