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View Full Version : The Blaw: Reality and Confusion in Self Defense Blogs



Hissho
23rd May 2012, 13:46
Posted here because this kind of bad information seems to increasingly be getting out there in Blogs talking about self defense Law.....I take him to task because he is a) an instructor and b) providing erroneous information that people may rely on in a threatening situation based on that instructor status....


Take a look at the following two statements someone could give to the police. Which one do you think will get you in trouble with the law?

"My girlfriend's ex- boyfriend was chasing me while screaming he was going to kill me and brandishing a gun. I pulled my knife out while running away because I took his threats about killing me seriously. I ducked around a corner and realized I was in a dead end. When he came around the corner he nearly ran into me. I was close enough that I could reach him with the knife. I targeted his hands in order to make him drop the gun and connected. He dropped the gun, turned and ran and I did not follow."

or

"My girlfriend's ex- boyfriend was chasing me while screaming he was going to kill me and brandishing a gun. I pulled my knife out while running away because I took his threats about killing me seriously. I ducked around a corner and realized I was in a dead end. When he came around the corner he nearly ran into me. I was close enough that I could reach him with the knife. I slashed out and caught his hand, deeply cutting it. He dropped the gun, turned and ran and I did not follow."

If you think the first statement where the guy with the knife points out that he was trying to only wound the person is the best thing to say, you are wrong. That statement is more likely to get you sent to prison than the second one.

In fact, neither situation is more likely to get you in trouble with the police. There is a critical issue, probably a mistake in the narrative, that makes both of these perfectly acceptable uses of force.

To Continue:


The reason the first sentence is so dangerous is that American law holds that deadly weapons like knives are meant to kill. They are not meant to do anything less and you can't use them if there is no need to kill someone. So targeting someone's hands is a less that lethal intent, and you can't do that.


This is true, something that I have pointed out for some time in personal protection training and writing. The article goes on to be critical of a trainer (I think I know who he is talking about) that remains a major proponent of both "bio-mechanical cutting" and the less lethal use of knives, which is in fact a double whammy: the first DOES NOT WORK in real life, and the second IS NOT LEGALLY JUSTIFIABLE.


But if you tell the police that you were trying not to kill someone while using a deadly weapon, then in the eyes of the law that means that the situation was not bad enough to use a deadly weapon.

This is where he goes off the rails. This may NOT be true at all, it entirely depends on the situation.


Your statement shows that you had enough control to make a choice like that, and that is what will get you into trouble.

Possibly. The linked "warning shot" example from Florida is probably the catalyst for this kind of mistaken thinking. The problem is we do not know some important particulars in that case and so it is dangerous to draw that conclusion, particularly in light of the details provided in the narratives.

You see, the situational factors change everything. It is why - and I harp again - minimal force and use of force continuums are not workable and not required by law. Other trainers still have yet to figure that out, both inside and outside law enforcement.

Can anyone figure it out?

Okay - the problem is the examples provided is that in both cases he has a man, with a gun and a stated intent to kill, chasing him.

A defender will by no means be in legal jeopardy in using a knife to defend himself, whether his intent is to wound or to kill, in this case. On its face he has the lawful right to use lethal force in his defense. Using lethal force"less lethally" is simply a tactical error here, not one of unlawful intent, because of the nature of the threat.

This needs to be understood before a bad misunderstanding could potentially become a fatal one for someone that reads this and thinks it is correct.

So, what do I think he meant to say?

I think he meant to say that the girlfriend's ex-BF threatened to kick his ass.

He decided to flee, but ex-BF started chasing him, unarmed and not reasonably expected to be armed, still saying he was going to hit him.

He pulls a knife - but because he knows it is not a lethal threat situation, he decides to use his knife "less lethally."

And he cuts ex-BF hands. He tells the cops this, and gets arrested for assault with a deadly weapon or its equivalent....


THAT is where the whole trouble with a lethal weapon used less lethally lies. Please banish any thought that if you were to use a lethal weapon less lethally in a situation where you had the right to use it lethally, that you are in jeopardy by telling the police that you didn't want to kill the guy.

Indeed, that actually goes to further demonstrate your defensive mindset.

Instructors, in particular, need to be expected to get this right. The devil is in the details.


Link to Original:

http://web.me.com/keldaerismaster/Colorado_Springs_Bujinkan/Blog/Entries/2012/5/18_When_it_Comes_to_the_Law,_what_You_Donít_Know_CAN_Hurt_You.html

eddy14
21st January 2014, 05:43
Thanks for sharing.

allan
21st January 2014, 22:36
Hi Eddy,

Please sign all posts with your full name. You can set things up so that this is done automatically.

mkrueger
21st January 2014, 23:03
Yes, the breakdown sounds about right, Kit. Your comparisons of situations makes a lot more sense.

Joseph Svinth
22nd January 2014, 02:22
Punch somebody in the nose. Misdemeanor assault, at most, right? Not if he falls down and cracks his head open, or if he has a heart attack and dies. Then you're looking at Man 2 or thereabouts.

Jurisdiction matters, too. Something that is no big deal in, say, Houston, could get you in a lot of trouble in, say, Minneapolis. Not paying your child support, for instance. Do that in Minneapolis, and Hennapin County will be looking for every cent you ever made, anywhere in the country. Similarly, there was a case a few years back where a fellow in Houston shot a burglar in the back as the burglar was running away. That was ruled self-defense. I wouldn't recommend anybody even think about that in, say, New York or Massachusetts.

The scary part is that the rules change without your even noticing. Cross the city limits, the county line, the state border, and totally different rules apply than what you may be used to. Go to the post office, for instance, packing your piece, with a legal permit from your state? That's a felony. Federal property. Different rules apply...

TonyU
22nd January 2014, 17:04
Punch somebody in the nose. Misdemeanor assault, at most, right? Not if he falls down and cracks his head open, or if he has a heart attack and dies. Then you're looking at Man 2 or thereabouts.

Jurisdiction matters, too. Something that is no big deal in, say, Houston, could get you in a lot of trouble in, say, Minneapolis. Not paying your child support, for instance. Do that in Minneapolis, and Hennapin County will be looking for every cent you ever made, anywhere in the country. Similarly, there was a case a few years back where a fellow in Houston shot a burglar in the back as the burglar was running away. That was ruled self-defense. I wouldn't recommend anybody even think about that in, say, New York or Massachusetts.

The scary part is that the rules change without your even noticing. Cross the city limits, the county line, the state border, and totally different rules apply than what you may be used to. Go to the post office, for instance, packing your piece, with a legal permit from your state? That's a felony. Federal property. Different rules apply...
Dead on! I can tell you what most people can get away with in other states isn't going to fly here in NJ.

Kendoguy9
24th January 2014, 11:22
Kit et al.,

Thank you for your post (sorry I'm a little late to the party). I think these are things that are often neglected in self defense classes. As Joe has posted you need to know your jurisdiction as well. Self defense and protection needs to go beyond the mat and into the law books as well. One of the problems is that this information can be difficult to obtain for many. Heck even LEO get stuff like this mixed up (use of force continuums as Kit stated above). So even asking a cop buddy might not get you the right answer. Maybe a State's Attorney would be a good source to go to to understand this? Thoughts?

Chris

TonyU
24th January 2014, 15:05
Kit et al.,

Thank you for your post (sorry I'm a little late to the party). I think these are things that are often neglected in self defense classes. As Joe has posted you need to know your jurisdiction as well. Self defense and protection needs to go beyond the mat and into the law books as well. One of the problems is that this information can be difficult to obtain for many. Heck even LEO get stuff like this mixed up (use of force continuums as Kit stated above). So even asking a cop buddy might not get you the right answer. Maybe a State's Attorney would be a good source to go to to understand this? Thoughts?

Chris
I work for the equivalent of a State Attorney's Office. Keep in mind that they may even get it wrong.
Case in point. A few years ago there was a Florida cop who was disarmed of his nunchaku (that agency had them issued to them). The officer then shot and killed the offender. Imo, a clear case of a justifiable shoot, even in this state. Well I had an argument with a Chief Assistant Prosecutor who stated that he would have indicted the cop. Not cool.

Hissho
25th January 2014, 11:54
Tony's right - why do you think there is so much debate and so many reversals and the like in the law? Even the attorneys get it wrong/have different opinions: and by attorneys I mean prosecutors, defense, judges, and the politicians that make the law.... add to that the fact that many have zero direct personal experience with violence and things can be all over the board.