Does Self-defense mean you won't be prosecuted?
Let’s look at a possible scenario.
I just left a restaurant after enjoying a pleasant meal. I head down the street to where my car is parked. I decide to do a quick check of your email.
Turning the corner, I encounter a group of black-clad protesters. Before I can retreat to safety, one of the protestors starts screaming at me and knocks me down. As I struggle to get back up, the protestor starts beating me with a skateboard.
Realization washes over me. I realize that I will be knocked unconscious and possibly killed if I don’t do something soon. So I draw my concealed carry firearm and shoot the protestor. The police arrive and pull me away from the rest of the protesters.
I think that they have come to the rescue, but I soon find myself in handcuffs.
As I sit in the holding cell, I still think that this is just a procedure. After all, I didn’t intend to kill the protestor, but the protestor died from the gunshot. Besides, it was self-defense.
My lawyer arrives and bails me out. This action empties my saving, but I am still sure that the follow-up investigation will clear me. I even felt vindicated when the next day, news coverage showed the protestor attacked Me. Wetnesses also confirm my story.
After a few weeks, my lawyer informed me I had been indicted for manslayer. He also told me that a trial date had been set. I think ‘what the’?
The Real World
You don’t think this can happen. Ask Kyle Rittenhouse!
Rittenhouse is an 18 male. He is accused of shooting dead Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, in the parking lot of a Kenosha car dealership during rioting in the Wisconsin city on Aug. 25, 2020.
He was indicted, and the case went to trial.
How is this possible when video and witness evidence showed his claim of self-defense was valid?
Here is the absolute truth. In our legal system, the prosecutor decides when charges are filed. We would hope that this decision would be band based upon the facts. Sadly the ability to win the case and political forces often sway the decision.
A shooter’s history can play a part in the prosecutor’s decision. So does the shooter doesn’t have to have a criminal history. Social media posts can come base to haunt a shooter.
The jury pool can also affect the prosecutor’s decision. For example, a shooting that would never go to trial in a conservative county will often go to trial in a liberal county.
The ability to win a case sways some prosecutors more than the facts.
What would I do?
I am not a lawyer, so I cannot tell what you should do. I can only tell you what I would do.
First I try my best to avoid this type of situation. I try to stay informed about what I going on in areas that I am going to visit. Things like checking in the news, paying a little more to park close to the restaurant, and staying aware of the sounds in the area are all helpful in staying out of a bad situation.
When I could not avoid a situation, my next action would be to elevate. Sure, here in Florida, you don’t have the duty to retreat. However, it is better to retreat if I can safely do this. This could require some planning. I should know my escape routes. It may also require that I react as soon as I see the threat. If I am checking my email, I will have to switch from email to assessing the threat. Again, stay alert.
If I cannot avoid or escape, I must confront the threat. Your posture, actions, and voice can convince the threat that you are not an easy target.
The last item on the decision tree is deadly force. There is an old saying that says “It is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6”. If it is me or the attacker, I will choose myself every time.
I did everything a reasonable person could have done to avoid the use of deadly force. Now I have to prepare for the aftermath.
Remember the police are not there to protect me. No matter how friendly they may seem to be, they work for the prosecutor.
I have the right to remain silent, but that right does come into effect until I invoke it. Anything I voluntarily say before or after I invoke my right may be used against you. I would not say anything without my lawyer present.
The prosecutor’s goal is to win the case. In most situations, if they don’t think they can win the case, they won’t prosecute. If they think they can win the case or there is political pressure, they will prosecute.
My only ally is my lawyer. The sooner I can get my lawyer involved, the better.
The quality of my defense is based upon the quality of my lawyer. My family lawyer may be great with wills and trust, but how much does my lawyer know about self-defense law.
I am a big advocate of self-defense insurance. Self-defense insurance is like car insurance for self-defense situations.
If I decide not to take advance of self-defense insurance, I better be sure I have a relationship with a good lawyer that specializes in self-defense law.
My Final Option
I cannot let the consequences of using deadly force scare me out of carrying daily. If I do, I surrender my fate to others.
- Training is a must. Instructor lead courses are great, but all training is useful. Books, Youtube, dry-fire, and scenario walk-through are all viable training. Knowledge is power.
- Don’t let the first time you think about the use of deadly force and the consequences be when the attacker is in your face.
- Let your lawyer sort things out.
My last words:
- Exercise your 2nd amendment rights
- Get trained
- Carry responsibility