Self-Defense laws in your state?

Tez3

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I don't know what laws are in the US but I have a very good grounding in what they are here. It is extremely rare in this country to have a genuine case of self defence come to court. We have had some high profile cases where people have misunderstood the evidence as well as the law and thought someone was lawfully defending themselves when they weren't. One case being when some intruders broke into a home, assaulted family members stole property then left. The family members freed themselves then armed with iron poles went around the street looking for the intruders, they found one and beat him unto a pulp, he didn't die but suffered extreme brain damage. They claimed self defence but they were charged and convicted. Another was the case of Tony martin who shot and killed an intruder in his house, only it wasn't quite what it seemed. He had tricked some lads into thinking he had money lying around the house and he would be away, when they broke it he disturbed them and as they ran away down the garden path he shot one of them in the back and killed him. His weapons were illegal as he'd lost his shotgun licence after threatening several times to kill people one of whom was his own brother. He was a very disturbed person, which is why he was eventually have held to have committed manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
The police and the Crown Prosecution Service aren't stupid and it's actually far easier than you think to tell here what is genuine self defence and what isn't. People have been charged and found guilty for defending themselves or others because they went over the bounds of reasonable force ( incidentally this is the same standard police here are held to). Was stabbing someone 30+ times in a frenzied attack reasonable force? Was kicking them in the head after you'd rendered them unconsciousness self defence?
Certain media here make a great deal of noise about what they think are self defence cases, they have political agendas to keep to but people read them, especially non Brits and think that things must be so because the newspapers say they are. Actually they aren't.
Householders and the use of force against intruders

"Anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime. You are not expected to make fine judgements over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment. So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and in self-defence. This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon.

As a general rule, the more extreme the circumstances and the fear felt, the more force you can lawfully use in self-defence.

The force you use must always be reasonable in the circumstances as you believe them to be. Where you are defending yourself or others from intruders in your home, it might still be reasonable in the circumstances for you to use a degree of force that is subsequently considered to be disproportionate, perhaps if you are acting in extreme circumstances in the heat of the moment and dont have a chance to think about exactly how much force would be necessary to repel the intruder: it might seem reasonable to you at the time but, with hindsight, your actions may seem disproportionate. The law will give you the benefit of the doubt in these circumstances.

This only applies if you were acting in self-defence or to protect others in your home and the force you used was disproportionate disproportionate force to protect property is still unlawful."


 

Tez3

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I have no sympathy for wife beaters. If I was on the jury I wouldn'tve given her a guilty verdict.

No one has sympathy for wife beaters but if she did in fact murder her husband rather than defend herself she is guilty of murder. The sentencing however could have taken account of her state of mind, her suffering etc and she could have been given a suspended sentence or a light sentence. The law would be upheld by the guilt murder verdict, justice would have been upheld in lighter sentencing. You cannot condone murder because you are then opening doors to anyone who wanted to kill someone using the fact another deliberately killed someone but got away with it because the jury felt sorry for her. it may seem harsh but understanding the law is important.
It's the same thing with so called 'mercy killings', when you unlawfully kill someone even out of mercy or the person asks you to, you have broken the law and you have to be tried in court. The law will find you guilty, justice however is served by a non custodial sentence, which is what happens here. societies now are so large that we need law and we need to uphold it. If the laws are seen to been unjust or unfair them we lobby to have them changed but you'd best understand what laws you want and the consequences of these laws are.
You allowing the woman off because you felt sorry for her would have consequences you may not like.
 

hoshin1600

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I have no sympathy for wife beaters. If I was on the jury I wouldn'tve given her a guilty verdict.

Ok mr. Juror ....here is the problem, this trial is not about whether or not Mr . Jones beats his wife. Unless there are witnesses that he was physically beating her at the time of the shooting, we have no proof that mr. Jones does abuse his wife. There is potential testimony that Mrs. Jones is fabricating the abuse to justify her actions.
 

Tez3

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Ok mr. Juror ....here is the problem, this trial is not about whether or not Mr . Jones beats his wife. Unless there are witnesses that he was physically beating her at the time of the shooting, we have no proof that mr. Jones does abuse his wife. There is potential testimony that Mrs. Jones is fabricating the abuse to justify her actions.

There's certainly that as well. If she was telling the truth about the abuse she is still guilty of murder and finding her not guilty will, as I have said, have consequences because you will have not just set the precedent that you can kill people even if you aren't in immediate danger, you will have given a defence to anyone who wants to kill a partner, just state they beat you and hey presto the jury feels sorry for you and away you go on your merry way.
 

Psilent Knight

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I have no sympathy for wife beaters. If I was on the jury I wouldn'tve given her a guilty verdict.

Ok mr. Juror ....here is the problem, this trial is not about whether or not Mr . Jones beats his wife. Unless there are witnesses that he was physically beating her at the time of the shooting, we have no proof that mr. Jones does abuse his wife. There is potential testimony that Mrs. Jones is fabricating the abuse to justify her actions.

I'm not going to lie. I too have a strong dislike for wife beaters. I think they're a disgrace. And I hate sexual predators 100 x worse. I want to look into the Mrs. Jones case and examine the details. Anyone here have a link or two for me?
 

CB Jones

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I have no sympathy for wife beaters. If I was on the jury I wouldn'tve given her a guilty verdict.

The system fails when you selectively enforce the law.

The law says you have to have a reasonable belief your life was in danger.
 

hoshin1600

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I'm not going to lie. I too have a strong dislike for wife beaters. I think they're a disgrace. And I hate sexual predators 100 x worse. I want to look into the Mrs. Jones case and examine the details. Anyone here have a link or two for me?

I will see if I can find it, but it's actually from the 1970's. And the name isn't Jones. I was just using it as a generic name. The case was of significance because it set a precedent.
 

Psilent Knight

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The system fails when you selectively enforce the law.

I agree. Not only is it bad that it happens far too often, it's bad because it shouldn't happen at all.

The law says you have to have a reasonable belief your life was in danger.

I almost hate to say this and may end up regretting it, but this goes in the direction of interpretation (as hoshin and I were discussing) and outside parties telling me the fear for my life or safety was not reasonable or reasonable enough. It's bad enough there are criminals out there gambling with our lives on one side, we don't need the legal system gambling with our lives as well on the other side. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

This is what I've been trying to say guys. Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Here are the choices you are faced with; either Ignore the fear you feel and either hold back, refrain from preemptive action or don't react at all and suffer the consequences by your assailant. Or act upon your fear, preempt your assailant and do what you must do to ensure your safety and survival and suffer the consequences by the law/legal system.

A rock and a hard place guys. A rock and a damn hard place. And a sucker's game, hence my earlier multi colored analogy.
 

CB Jones

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I almost hate to say this and may end up regretting it, but this goes in the direction of interpretation (as hoshin and I were discussing) and outside parties telling me the fear for my life or safety was not reasonable or reasonable enough.

That's the cost of living in society....you have to follow the laws of society and what society decides to allow.
 

PhotonGuy

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I do know of a case in Texas of this girl who had been molested since she was 9 by a "family friend." When her dad found out he set a trap for the "family friend" and beat him up really badly. Although they said such acts of vigilantism are frowned upon the dad was not charged. If I knew the dad was beating him up, I personally would've looked the other way.
 

Psilent Knight

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That's the cost of living in society....you have to follow the laws of society and what society decides to allow.

Yeah, pretty much. I believe it was oftheherd who told me if I don't like the laws then I should change them. Way easier said than done.

So I'm left with one of two choices; be a victim and suffer at the hands of my assailant(s) or not be a victim and take my chances in court. I'd rather take my chances in court but that's just me. By no means would I tell those who make the other choice that they're wrong. We take a risk no matter which choice we make. It's just a matter of which risk we'd rather take.

So, Pick Your Poison. LOL.
 

Psilent Knight

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I will see if I can find it, but it's actually from the 1970's. And the name isn't Jones. I was just using it as a generic name. The case was of significance because it set a precedent.

There was a movie I watched on TV back in the '80s called The Burning Bed starring Farah Fawcett.

After putting up with years of violent domestic abuse, Farah's character finally had enough. So one night after her husband beat her up during one of his many drunken rages he fell asleep. So she packed up the kids, poured gasoline all over him and put a match to him killing him.

In the movie she went to trial and she was acquitted. But this movie is supposedly based on a true story. I think I'm going to look that up as well.
 

jks9199

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Nobody is saying do not defend yourself. They are saying understand the laws and the rules so that, when you defend yourself, you don't also go to jail. You're the one caught up on the whole idea that the rules are wrong or morally incorrect.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
 

Psilent Knight

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Nobody is saying do not defend yourself. They are saying understand the laws and the rules so that, when you defend yourself, you don't also go to jail. You're the one caught up on the whole idea that the rules are wrong or morally incorrect.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

What on earth are you talking about and why are you insisting on hostile dialogue? Have you not read my last 4 or 5 posts? I said we face legal risks when we defend ourselves and this is a fact you can't deny unless you're willing to be blind and/or dishonest. We can't always dictate the circumstances, pace, direction and outcome of an altercation so the risk is always there that we may inadvertently do something that will cause us to "go to jail". If you disagree with that notion then that's fine by me. I have no problem with that. You react in a SD situation according to your position on this issue and I will react in a SD situation according to my position on this issue.

I have no problem with your opinion and position on this but you obviously take huge exception to mine. I wonder why.

And concerning your claim that I'm caught up on the whole idea that the rules are wrong or morally incorrect. Truth is you're caught up on the whole idea that the rules are never wrong and are all morally correct. You're looking at the same thing that I'm looking at but from a different angle. You see a square from your angle while I see a triangle from mine. Difference is what you see doesn't bother me one bit but what I see seems to seriously vex you. Agree to disagree as I have and move on.
 
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Psilent Knight

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On a different note, going back to the Farrah Fawcett movie; it is a movie adaptation of a non fiction/true Crime book on the life of Francine Hughes (later changed to Wilson). Francine passed away March of this year due to complications with Pneumonia. She was 69.

She went to trial and was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity and what was dubbed Battered Woman's Syndrome.
 

Tez3

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There seems to be an assumption here that such cases always go to court as well as the assumption that it will be judged by laymen. That doesn't happen here and I doubt it happens in the US.
When you are attacked, defend yourself and the attacker dies, you call the police. The police don't immediately arrest you cart you off to court and you are plonked in front of a jury to be judged by a random bunch of people.

When the police turn up at the scene they have no way of knowing who is telling the truth and who isn't, they don't know what happened. You do but remember they don't know you so you may feel indignant etc that you are being questioned etc.

The case is investigated, forensic evidence taken, the story pieced together by experienced detectives. In the UK it will go to the Coroner's Court, this will decide the means of death ie unlawful killing, if it is not an unlawful killing then there will be no prosecution. The standard is the same in the Coroner's Court of 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Domestic homicide is treated differently in that other agencies also become involved ... Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) (introduced by section 9 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, in April 2011) are multi-agency reviews undertaken following a domestic violence related homicide.
It's rare for a 'self defence' case to come to court, if it does it's because there is sufficient evidence to show that there is considerable doubt about how the incident actually played out, usually that's not because of 'unreasonable' violence but because there's evidence to show that the act was actually premeditated. In the cases that do come to court you can see why, it needs to be examined in detail in the open. they are never straightforward one such as someone burst into my house, they were armed and I felt afraid for my life so I shot them. That's open and shut, the cases that do come to court are like this one Robert Rhodes cleared of killing wife during row - BBC News. there's still talk despite everything that he did actually murder his wife. Of course we don't know all the evidence but you can see why it came to court.
Some cases are complicated, the accused admits killing someone but the case needs to go to court for a verdict which isn't necessarily a guilty' of murder one but it could be. Man who killed his wife while sleeping goes free

What seems simple rarely is, if you shoot and kill an intruder it seems so to you who was there but for every one genuine case of self defence there are many fake ones. Of course the only case you are interested is yours but that can't be the case for investigators. You know you are telling the truth but how do they? You don't like being questioned but would demand that investigators question everyone in other cases, would you be happy if they took the word of everyone? The situation is seen through tunnel vision when you are personally involved, often it takes other people to see the whole picture and that's what society needs.
 

lklawson

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The system fails when you selectively enforce the law.

The law says you have to have a reasonable belief your life was in danger.
Almost. The law says that you have to have a reasonable belief that your life, or that of an innocent third party, was in immediate danger from a party or parties capable of inflicting death or serious bodily harm, that you didn't provoke or deliberately incite the circumstance, and (often) that there were no other reasonable and immediate alternatives to lethal force. The four pillars that I referenced above.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

lklawson

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I almost hate to say this and may end up regretting it, but this goes in the direction of interpretation (as hoshin and I were discussing) and outside parties telling me the fear for my life or safety was not reasonable or reasonable enough. It's bad enough there are criminals out there gambling with our lives on one side, we don't need the legal system gambling with our lives as well on the other side. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
You seem to be really, dramatically, misunderstanding the Reasonable Man Doctrine.

"A phrase frequently used in tort and Criminal Law to denote a hypothetical person in society who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct and who serves as a comparative standard for determining liability.

The decision whether an accused is guilty of a given offense might involve the application of an objective test in which the conduct of the accused is compared to that of a reasonable person under similar circumstances. In most cases, persons with greater than average skills, or with special duties to society, are held to a higher standard of care. For example, a physician who aids a person in distress is held to a higher standard of care than is an ordinary person."
 

Psilent Knight

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Hey people, let me sum up as briefly and best as I can exactly how I look at this and WHY I do. And by why I mean to show everyone something which validates my concerns.

Basically, if I am accosted by an assailant and I have absolutely no means to escape the situation then I am faced with three choices:

1). Do nothing and be a victim who didn't even try to defend himself.
2). Defend myself but somehow consciously control the flow and outcome of the altercation so as not to perform an action that will land me in jail.
3). Don't think about anything except my immediate safety and survival and deal with the aftermath once the dust settles.

For me, #1 is simply not an option (and we'll get to this).

I would love to be able to always do #2 but that is simply not realistic. Maybe if I am fighting off a 13 year old 6th grader throwing a tantrum, sure. But against a thug with a knife or gun or against multiple attackers or home invaders? No way. And anyone who claims they can ALWAYS do such thing no matter the assailant or the place and circumstances of the situation has serious reality/fantasy issues and/or honesty issues.

#3 is the only option I see that can guarantee my safety and survival which is my primary goal in any SD situation. My primary goal in a SD situation is NOT to focus on whether or not I will end up in court. In a serious situation I cannot possibly think about that and focus on ending the threat at the same time. IT'S SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE. Option #3 for me not only includes shutting the fear of legal consequences out of my mind (so I can strictly focus on survival) but also includes preemption if need be. In a SD situation against society's brain shy you're either the hammer or the nail. I don't know about the rest of you guys but I choose to be the hammer and survive.

I'll just repeat once more what I said in my previous post; when you have to defend either yourself, your family or your home THE RISK ALWAYS EXISTS that you may end someone's life. You may have done it deliberately or you may have done it accidentally. But that risk is always there. It CAN happen and it DOES happen. In addition, THE RISK ALWAYS EXISTS that you may face prosecution and even conviction because of what transpired in your SD altercation.

Now, here's the CRUX of our discussion; most posters here focus on my position that the SD laws in the U.S. aren't practiced fairly across the board. This seems to be the main thing that is getting people's goat. The thing is if SD cases were fairly practiced across the board then I would have no reason to have this concern. So my position is that the legal system IS NOT always fair and just while others here (like @jks9199 ) says that it is. So I need to link to cases to validate my position concerning the legal system.

I've found plenty cases that I can link to but I all I really need is just one. Just one case of the legal system showing it's inept and ugly colors is enough to put a stain on the perception that the legal system is always fair and just. The reason one case is enough is because (according to people like jks) the system is always correct and morally right, so crookedness and unfairness shouldn't even happen at all, be it one time or one thousand times. And this one SD situation has all of the elements I've been talking about neatly wrapped into one case.

I am talking about the sad and very unfortunate case of Jesse Murray in the state of Georgia. He is on trial for murder and is refused the "stand your ground law" as a legal defense. Remember when I said I will be getting back to option #1 where you just stand there and be a victim without trying to defend yourself? Well:

Despite this threat, the court seems to be saying that Murray should have allowed himself to be beaten first and then used his gun as a last resort. In the decision issued by Judge Albert R. Collier, Clayton County Superior Court, the judge felt that Murray was not in fear of his life when he was attacked by a group of four men. The judge stated that nor does it appear to this court that the other men in the vicinity were acting in such a way that would cause the defendant to reasonably believe that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or a third party

So being attacked by FOUR GROWN MEN does not cause a person to fear for his life? Really? And he should have just allowed himself to get beat up?

And there's this:

When police arrived, Murray surrendered his weapon and was trying to explain what happened and was handcuffed by the responding officer. While he was cuffed, a member of the group that assaulted Murray ran forward and punched him in the head. The officer did not arrest the man who assaulted Murray and instead placed Murray into the back of his patrol car.

Aggravated assault in the presence of a police officer and he doesn't get arrested? Beautiful example of FAIR and JUST application of the law.

I'm providing two separate links to this story for those who are interested in reading them. The two excerpts quoted above are from the first link.

I'm not going to get into WHY this particular case went in the direction that it did since that would be made apparent if you read the two links nor do I wish to see this discussion degrade into issues of race, racism and police corruption. For me the WHY doesn't matter so much as that IT HAPPENED AT ALL regardless of the reason. So much for the legal system always being fair and just. And so much for a person being allowed to defend himself in an obvious SD situation and he won't find himself in legal trouble for defending himself which is his basic human right.

@jobo
@PhotonGuy
@hoshin1600

This is the best way that I can sum up and explain where I've been coming from all along. I don't know what else I can do beyond this to get people to understand. Not necessarily agree, but UNDERSTAND.

Stand your ground defense denied for Black man in Georgia

Stand your ground a double standard for 1 Black man in Georgia
 
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Tez3

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The problem is actually quite simple, the legal system is as fair and just as is humanly possible to make it. The problem is in the administration of it and that's where it's getting into politics. The judiciary needs to be separated from the politicians.

We've got a case going on at the moment in the UK where the US government/President has involved himself in a legal case, lots of talk from the US telling us that the government is wrong, it should do this or that, the child it is about has even been given US citizenship ( doesn't work, the child is a ward of court) BUT the thing is the government has absolutely and totally nothing to do with the case, they aren't involved in legal cases nor can they be. They are often actually taken to court as has happened recently. Government and judiciary separated.

The problems in Pknight's post isn't one of the law being wrong, it's in attitudes, customs and politics so despite saying he didn't want it to be about that it actually is. The laws are often fine, those dealing with them aren't. Railing against the law doesn't work, the problems are deeper than that. And before someone starts ranting about me being anti -American, it's the same everywhere, you have to have exceptional people running the judiciary, they have to be without prejudice and take their jobs seriously. There are many who do but the problem of course is the many who don't or who's beliefs are such they cannot uphold the law fairly.

The truth is this argument is NOT about the law, it's about a society which administers laws unfairly....and that's a political argument not a self defence one.
 
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