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Thread: How soon must you report a homicide?

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    How soon must you report a homicide?

    I know how we all love scenarios, but I feel that this is a good one for any hiker or back country enthusiast out there.

    On my way out to the middle of nowhere on Mountain Loop I had a random thought that I simply couldn't answer. The biggest reason for carrying is personal protection, but what say if you have to protect yourself from another person when you're out in the middle of nowhere? You're easily an hour away from cell-phone range by car and perhaps a few hours or even a day's hike out from your car, so there is little chance that you'll be able to call 911 right after the shooting. Also, leaving the scene means that there is a chance that another hiker could come across a dead body, but staying in the area could mean no other human encounter for hours or a day or more.

    If the self-defense situation causes the death of a person, I figure one should head back to civilization immediately and get a hold of a lawyer first and follow his/her instructions. Would this be ideal? Can you legally leave the scene of a homicide should the circumstances mean you need to in order to report it to the proper authorities? How do you think one should handle such an encounter?

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    Regular Member j2l3's Avatar
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    If it's truly self defense, would it really be considered homicide?

    I'm not a lawyer but I doubt it. Seems it would be in your best interest to hike out and report it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by j2l3 View Post
    If it's truly self defense, would it really be considered homicide?
    Seems to fit the definition:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.32.010

    Homicide is the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another, death occurring at any time, and is either (1) murder, (2) homicide by abuse, (3) manslaughter, (4) excusable homicide, or (5) justifiable homicide.

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    I believe the correct answer here is "without delay" This does not mean As Soon As Possible, it means do not make any delay in reporting it, unless it is a reasonable one of course i.e. ran out of gas, had to hike out, cell phone died etc...

    That is my opinion at least
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    Quote Originally Posted by devildoc5 View Post
    I believe the correct answer here is "without delay" This does not mean As Soon As Possible, it means do not make any delay in reporting it, unless it is a reasonable one of course i.e. ran out of gas, had to hike out, cell phone died etc...

    That is my opinion at least
    He does bring up an interesting point tho. Assuming the BG is unarguably dead at the scene and therefore no urgent need to get medical attention, whom does one call first? Cops or lawyer?
    It is very wise to not take a watermelon lightly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j2l3 View Post
    If it's truly self defense, would it really be considered homicide?
    Yes, because homocide is not the same as murder. The taking of a man's life is homicide. In a self defense situation, it may be "justifiable homicide", but its still homicide.
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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onlurker View Post

    If the self-defense situation causes the death of a person, I figure one should head back to civilization immediately and get a hold of a lawyer first and follow his/her instructions. Would this be ideal? Can you legally leave the scene of a homicide should the circumstances mean you need to in order to report it to the proper authorities? How do you think one should handle such an encounter?
    You could just report it as soon as possible (like at the Silverton emergency radio on Mtn Loop) and then keep your mouth shut. There will be plenty of time to obtain a lawyer if needed.

    It should be as simple as:

    "I was hiking"
    "I was attacked"
    "I was in fear for my life"
    "I defended myself"
    "When my attacker was down I checked to see if he needed aid"
    "When I determined that he was beyond assistance I contacted authorities as soon as possible".
    "I then returned to the scene to wait for Law Enforcement".

    I would then state only the above facts and advise the officers or investigators that I wished to invoke my rights to representation.
    There is a funny thing that happens when you tell the truth. Memory is not as big a deal because it always seems to come out the same each time you tell it. It's when you are less than truthful that memory is essential. One slip and you will be "in the sauce".

    In the scenario you described I would keep it simple and stick to the statement I listed. Beyond those few facts just clam up. That will be the most difficult part for most people.

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    It is funny you bring up this topic. I had the same thought a couple weeks ago on a short pack trip. At the time I was only a couple hours from the car... but still hours from cell reception.

    In my semi-alert, semi-exhausted state my mind concluded the following:

    Protect the scene. I carry trail marking tape with me... a habit that carries over from archery hunting in the backcountry. So the first thing I would do is "tape off" an area around the "scene" to try and keep people from trampling it should they happen upon it.
    If it is close to dark, a couple of snap lights around the perimeter... to keep animals wary of the scene too. If I'm gone too long the body will become a meal for all manner of critter.

    Then the hike out. Depending on disatance I would drop all unnecessary gear at the scene and take the fastest route directly to my vehicle, phone, radio, etc. After which I would immediately return to the scene and remain near by for authorities.

    You know... assuming I hadn't driven all the way to a LEA office/station where I remained detained and / or in questioning while they sorted through my story.

    Yeah, my brain has to tell itself something on those long, mundane pack routes... :P

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    Regular Member Mainsail's Avatar
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    "Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, any station, (your call sign) has priority traffic."

    If\when you get a response, request the other ham radio station relay to the sheriff for whatever county you're in.

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    This scenario reminds me of the film and book Jindabyne -- where a bunch of buddies go on a fishing trip, find a dead body, but don't report it until a couple of days later. It's not technically illegal, but it screws up their lives. I think you'd end up wanting to report it as soon as possible (pre or post lawyer) lest it ride your conscience.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainsail View Post
    "Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, any station, (your call sign) has priority traffic."

    If\when you get a response, request the other ham radio station relay to the sheriff for whatever county you're in.
    And "Ham" operators make up what percentage of the population?

    Now for the rest of us--------

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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    And "Ham" operators make up what percentage of the population?

    Now for the rest of us--------
    Not as many as there used to be unfortunately, but people still love us when traditional means of communication (cell phones) don't work during a disaster.


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    Quote Originally Posted by daddy4count View Post
    Protect the scene. I carry trail marking tape with me... a habit that carries over from archery hunting in the backcountry. So the first thing I would do is "tape off" an area around the "scene" to try and keep people from trampling it should they happen upon it.
    If it is close to dark, a couple of snap lights around the perimeter... to keep animals wary of the scene too. If I'm gone too long the body will become a meal for all manner of critter.
    That's a pretty good idea, didn't think of that.

    Yeah, my brain has to tell itself something on those long, mundane pack routes... :P
    I'm with you there. Gotta break up the monotony of walking through miles of dense forest somehow :P

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    This brings up another good point.

    How many folks know about the "SPOT" satellite communicator?

    It's a small device used to track your movements anywhere on the globe.

    It has an "OK" button, "Help" button, and 911 button.

    Units are usually around $150 and during a promotion, the first year of service ($99) is free.

    On the Two Wheeled Texans forum, one of our members just used his SPOT this week when he went down while riding the backroads of New Mexico. He broke some ribs and couldn't pick his bike up. If not for his SPOT, he may have perished.

    http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthre...highlight=SPOT

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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    And "Ham" operators make up what percentage of the population?

    Now for the rest of us--------
    But there's the solution. You take an easy 35 question test that costs less than $20, and you hike with a small handheld radio. I do.


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    Is that the radio you hike with Mainsail? Can you provide more info on it?

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    Why tell anyone?

    What is the rationale behind telling the police that you shot someone in self-defense, assuming there is no other way to link you to the crime? Wouldn't it be better to pick up your shell casing(s), and get out of Dodge, and ****?

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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    You could just report it as soon as possible (like at the Silverton emergency radio on Mtn Loop) and then keep your mouth shut. There will be plenty of time to obtain a lawyer if needed...
    Laws vary between jurisdictions, but there is a PA lawyer who points out that when you make that call, you ARE confessing to homicide. At that point the prosecution's case is already made; the burden now shifts to you to prove a claim of self-defense--in law, this is called an "affirmative defense." In some jurisdictions at least, the law does not require you to call 911 and confess to homicide, which is arguably a violation of your fifth-amendment rights anyway. On the other hand you are required to render assistance if he's still alive, because you're the one who put him in that condition.

    So his advice is that you must call for assistance if your attacker is alive. If he's dead, however, it might be best to call the cops and report yourself, but it also might not. That's something only a lawyer would be able to advise you about.

    There is a funny thing that happens when you tell the truth. Memory is not as big a deal because it always seems to come out the same each time you tell it...
    That's some very bad advice right there. It's easy to have your story straight when you didn't steal the cookie from the cookie jar. After an encounter in which you took a life, unless you're a sociopath you will be traumatized. You will have experienced tunnel vision and hearing, and your memory will be vague and inaccurate on many details. And the cops are not your friends, nor are they impartial. Anything you say will be used against you. Any inconsistency, however tiny, could hang you. It could really ruin your day to hear the prosecutor ask you, "You mentioned that your attacker wore hiking boots. The deceased, however, wore work boots. Did you shoot the right guy? Are you lying about anything else? Have you ever told the truth in your life?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by olypendrew View Post
    What is the rationale behind telling the police that you shot someone in self-defense, assuming there is no other way to link you to the crime? Wouldn't it be better to pick up your shell casing(s), and get out of Dodge, and ****?
    Are those questions intended to promote discussion, or is it professional advice?

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    Nothing I post here should be taken as legal advice.

    I'm just asking a question and discussing a hypothetical.

    Basically, I'm asking why anyone who successfully defended himself against and killed an attacker, way back in the woods, where nobody saw anything--that's the hypothetical scenario--would say anything about it, to anyone, ever, unless it was a privileged conversation with a lawyer, psychiatrist, priest, spouse, etc. There may be reasons I haven't thought of.

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    There is a lot more to it that one would think. The totality of the circumstances and how the evidence (believe me, there will be lots of evidence) is interpreted. The old who, what, where, when, why and how are only a starting point for the investigation.

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    Leave without delay.

    Immediately call your lawyer, then immediately call the police.

    I would much rather have my lawyer know before hand that he needs to come see me at the PD than waiting for the police to give me permission to call him.

    And this is coming from a pro-cop guy. Just sayin.' :P
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    Regular Member Metalhead47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olypendrew View Post
    Nothing I post here should be taken as legal advice.

    I'm just asking a question and discussing a hypothetical.

    Basically, I'm asking why anyone who successfully defended himself against and killed an attacker, way back in the woods, where nobody saw anything--that's the hypothetical scenario--would say anything about it, to anyone, ever, unless it was a privileged conversation with a lawyer, psychiatrist, priest, spouse, etc. There may be reasons I haven't thought of.
    Because it will ALWAYs get traced back! No one would ever "get away" with something like that, don't you watch CSI? They always manage to figure it out in less than an hour too!

    Would have catastrophic consequences if it did come back on someone, and probably catastrophic consequences for you as well, if you actually did give that as legal advice.

    Begs the question tho, would it be better to call one's lawyer FIRST have have the lawyer contact the authorities (therefore not "confessing" to homicide)?
    It is very wise to not take a watermelon lightly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by olypendrew View Post
    Nothing I post here should be taken as legal advice.

    I'm just asking a question and discussing a hypothetical.

    Basically, I'm asking why anyone who successfully defended himself against and killed an attacker, way back in the woods, where nobody saw anything--that's the hypothetical scenario--would say anything about it, to anyone, ever, unless it was a privileged conversation with a lawyer, psychiatrist, priest, spouse, etc. There may be reasons I haven't thought of.

    Because, unless things have changed in the last few years since I have been out of the medical community. All conversations with a psychiatrist that involve possible past present or future harm to anyone, including yourself, are required to be reported to LEO as soon as possible by the psychiatrist.

    As far as convos with lawyers go I am not sure as they tend to be a decietful bunch anyways... (lol olypendrew)
    "And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metalhead47 View Post
    Because it will ALWAYs get traced back! No one would ever "get away" with something like that, don't you watch CSI? They always manage to figure it out in less than an hour too!

    Would have catastrophic consequences if it did come back on someone, and probably catastrophic consequences for you as well, if you actually did give that as legal advice.

    Begs the question tho, would it be better to call one's lawyer FIRST have have the lawyer contact the authorities (therefore not "confessing" to homicide)?
    What do you see as the catastrophic consequences of exercising the right to remain silent?

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