The law concering self defense and use of force without guns

Dirty Dog

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Strong opinions are a good thing. But don't let that degenerate into taking pot shots at one another. Keep the conversation polite, friendly, and professional.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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ATTENTION ALL USERS:

Strong opinions are a good thing. But don't let that degenerate into taking pot shots at one another. Keep the conversation polite, friendly, and professional.
If you read the whole thread you will see that @drop bear is slandering me. I asked him for the courtesy of a reread, he then made more unsubstantiated claims about me based on misquotes and complete fabrications. This isnt the first time.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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If you read the whole thread you will see that @drop bear is slandering me. I asked him for the courtesy of a reread, he then made more unsubstantiated claims about me based on misquotes and complete fabrications. This isnt the first time.
The point of that post was to get back on topic rather than continuing any slander-and does not state who is slandering here.
Not to discuss where the slander is coming from; if you'd like to do that feel free to use the "report" button, rather than derailing the thread.
 

Yanli

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The general principle, in the US, is quite simple. You may use the force reasonably necessary to safely resolve the situation.

Sounds simple. Let's look at the words.


  • Force: any means of imposing your will on someone. That includes simply being there (usually for cops or security more so than a private individual -- but it can apply if that private citizen involves themselves in someone else's problem) or saying no, up to any means of causing grievous bodily harm or death. Lethal force ain't limited to guns; it includes knives, baseball bats, choke holds, punches to the throat, throws on hard concrete... anything that is reasonably likely to cause serious bodily harm or death.
  • Necessary: Key issues here are Intent, Means, Opportunity, and the oft neglected Preclusion.
    [*=1]Intent: Did the attacker intend to do you harm? Assuming a decent self defense scenario, this is often a given. But you have to take it into account, because if they lacked the intent to do you harm, you can't do anything to them without becoming an assailant yourself. And it applies in a Monkey Dance -- because in some cases, the last thing the players actually want is to fight. They're just putting on a show for their friends and the crowd.
    [*=1]Means: An actual capability to do harm. Weapons, including unarmed weapons like fists and feet. Again -- most self defense situations, this is generally a given. They've shown a weapon, or they've grabbed you... but you need to be able to articulate how they were going to carry out their intent to do you harm. You can't shoot someone 15 yards away who says he's going to shoot you if he doesn't have a gun and you have no reason to believe he has one.
    [*=1]Opportunity: Are they in a position to do what they threaten? Someone threatening to choke you to death from a couple hundred yards away lacks the opportunity to carry out their threat (unless, of course, they're Darth Vader). Yep, again, in a good self defense situation, this is given.
    [*=1]Preclusion: Your use of force was the only option available to you that would likely have ended the situation safely. Especially important in lethal force. Stand your ground laws shift this a little -- but you still have to be able to say that you were in the right and didn't create the situation.
  • Reasonable: Would that mythical creature, the reasonable person, conclude that your force was appropriate and proportional to the threat presented? Can you show why you needed to hit, kick, lock, or shoot that person -- and that other options wouldn't have been likely to resolve the situation effectively? (Yeah, some overlap here with preclusion.) You can write books about reasonableness -- but generally speaking, if the force you use is about the same or a little more than was being threatened or used, you're likely to be in the right neighborhood. You can likely punch someone who's grabbing you -- but need to explain more if you shoot them. If they get a weapon, you're almost certainly OK (assuming you were in the right in the first place) getting one of your own. But if you shoot someone waving a Nerf sword?
  • Safely resolve: What's your role? My job as a cop means that "safely resolve" typically means subdue and arrest. For a private individual, your role in self defense is to escape and get help -- not effect an arrest. Generally, "safely resolve" means get out of there without any more injury than you sustained in the initial attack. Not get even with the bad guy.


Cases of one punch kills, or freak incidents where a guy falls and hits his head on a rock tie into one other principle: You take your victim as you find them. Unknown to anyone, the guy has a dissecting aorta, and your punch is the final straw... You might be charged with some class of homicide. Same thing if he falls and hits his head.

Oh... yeah... Charges. Depending on what happens, you may do everything "right" in defending yourself, but may still find yourself arrested. Especially if you kill someone. That's when you go back to that local attorney you consulted, as was advised by Carol and frank raud, and you hire him. Unless you've learned of a better attorney to hire. Then you hire that guy.
I luckily have not had an issue with the law for defending myself, but a story that I heard many years ago from another MA instructor. A instructor encountered a fight at a bar, he tried to break it up, and in that attempt a strike was thrown at him. The instructor out of reflects blocked the punch and countered with a punch, and he broke the guys jaw. The instructor got arrested and sued because he did not show his card indicating his hands are deadly. The court said he should of shown his card before trying to break up the fight, the court and the lawmakers do not seem to realize what would happen in that attempt.
 

Yanli

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As others have said, talk to a LOCAL attorney who knows how that county's DA/PA interprets and looks at the law.

Another thing to consider is that the concept of "self-defense" is a legal defense for the charge of assault/battery. Chances are great that you will still have to go to court to answer for the charge based on other witness statements etc. Police agencies do NOT have legal immunity. Only the Prosecutor/District Attorney does. This means that the police will take the report and turn over a warrant request to the Pros. Office for them to review and decide if it was self-defense or not. The police may or may not arrest you on the spot, it depends on their dept. policy and how much discretion they have. Some places/officers just arrest both parties and submit the report to let the PA/DA sort it out.

You can "google" your own state's laws regarding self-defense and get a general idea what it has. Some states have a "stand your ground" clause and others still have a "duty to retreat" clause in it. If your state has a "duty to retreat", then you must show that you attempted to leave the situation in someway, or why you couldn't safely leave and did not do anything to cause the situation to turn violent. For example, two people getting into a verbal argument at a bar and both parties are calling each other names and throwing threats back and forth. One person pushes the other and that person then punches the guy out and claims "self-defense" because the other guy pushed him. NOT going to fly as "self-defense" because both parties were willing participants and neither made an attempt to leave or de-escalate.
Another law that I am sure many MA practitioners are aware of, is having to show your card, I can see in some situations that it is possible to show your card before a fight starts, but not always. I understand the reason for this law, but I find it little ridiculous, if a person has the mind set to attack someone, then they should be prepared for the consequences. Everybody knows that if you get into a fight you may lose, just as if you commit a crime, you will may go to jail. If one has to show their card before a fight, why don't the police have to show a card before someone commits a crime. I know this sounds ridiculous, but that's the point, an attacker knows they may lose a fight or seriously get hurt, just as a criminal knows they may go to jail for a short or long period of time. How do other MA's feel about this?
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Another law that I am sure many MA practitioners are aware of, is having to show your card, I can see in some situations that it is possible to show your card before a fight starts, but not always. I understand the reason for this law, but I find it little ridiculous, if a person has the mind set to attack someone, then they should be prepared for the consequences. Everybody knows that if you get into a fight you may lose, just as if you commit a crime, you will may go to jail. If one has to show their card before a fight, why don't the police have to show a card before someone commits a crime. I know this sounds ridiculous, but that's the point, an attacker knows they may lose a fight or seriously get hurt, just as a criminal knows they may go to jail for a short or long period of time. How do other MA's feel about this?
Unless you live in Guam, this is not true at all. Even in Guam, there's no card, you are just supposed to register as a deadly weapon. No card is given out.

What's weird there is you register with the department of revenue and taxation, which seems like an odd place to do it.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Unless you live in Guam, this is not true at all. Even in Guam, there's no card, you are just supposed to register as a deadly weapon. No card is given out.

What's weird there is you register with the department of revenue and taxation, which seems like an odd place to do it.
I hadn't heard that about guam. I wonder what their purpose actually is in that. Is there a badass tax?
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I hadn't heard that about guam. I wonder what their purpose actually is in that. Is there a badass tax?
If you're curious, here's the official documentation: https://statecodesfiles.justia.com/...ion-3/chapter-62/chapter-62.pdf?ts=1580422412
There's a one-time registration fee, but that fee's only $5.00 (US). Not enough to be any sort of revenue fee.

Oh, and if you don't register, whether or not you then use said weapon, you're guilty of a misdemeanor for having an unregistered weapon.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Another law that I am sure many MA practitioners are aware of, is having to show your card, I can see in some situations that it is possible to show your card before a fight starts, but not always. I understand the reason for this law, but I find it little ridiculous, if a person has the mind set to attack someone, then they should be prepared for the consequences. Everybody knows that if you get into a fight you may lose, just as if you commit a crime, you will may go to jail. If one has to show their card before a fight, why don't the police have to show a card before someone commits a crime. I know this sounds ridiculous, but that's the point, an attacker knows they may lose a fight or seriously get hurt, just as a criminal knows they may go to jail for a short or long period of time. How do other MA's feel about this?
What card? Can anyone produce a copy of this card?
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Yanli

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Unless you live in Guam, this is not true at all. Even in Guam, there's no card, you are just supposed to register as a deadly weapon. No card is given out.

What's weird there is you register with the department of revenue and taxation, which seems like an odd place to do it.
In my much younger years it did, as soon as you become a blackbelt, you needed to register your hands as deadly weapons. I know, sounds stupid, but some states were or still are like that.
 

J. Pickard

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Self defense laws vary country to country and state to state. Most states in the US have "stand your ground laws" and "castle doctrine" but a few have "duty to retreat" laws still in affect. Even in those there is so much variation there is no one standard. Take Florida for example; Zimmerman got away with killing an unarmed teen under the pretense of self defense, meanwhile Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years (later on plea deal reduced to 3 years) for firing a gun, and missing, at her soon to be ex-husband in self defense when he threatened to attack her. In both cases the same defense based on the Florida "stand your ground" laws were used but in the case of George Zimmerman, who actually killed someone, He was acquitted of all charges based on the law where as Marissa Alexander was prosecuted for Aggravated assault with a lethal weapon even though her husband was actively threatening her and nobody was injured.

This is actually a HUGE topic of study in various fields of Social Sciences and Law and the definition of "self defense" is one that is constantly changing and being redefined to the point that even many lawyers will tell you it's hard to say for sure what is and what isn't self defense. We actually have a criminal lawyer that comes in when we do self-defense seminars and every time he says the same thing "There is no guarantee in a self-defense argument and it can vary from judge to judge and jury to jury, but here is the law in Michigan as written..." He then goes on to give case examples of successful self-defense claims and unsuccessful ones and it is surprisingly varied but gives people more knowledge to make the choice that is best for them.
 

Steve

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In my much younger years it did, as soon as you become a blackbelt, you needed to register your hands as deadly weapons. I know, sounds stupid, but some states were or still are like that.
Tell me more? Which states? I'm very curious.
 

Yanli

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Self defense laws vary country to country and state to state. Most states in the US have "stand your ground laws" and "castle doctrine" but a few have "duty to retreat" laws still in affect. Even in those there is so much variation there is no one standard. Take Florida for example; Zimmerman got away with killing an unarmed teen under the pretense of self defense, meanwhile Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years (later on plea deal reduced to 3 years) for firing a gun, and missing, at her soon to be ex-husband in self defense when he threatened to attack her. In both cases the same defense based on the Florida "stand your ground" laws were used but in the case of George Zimmerman, who actually killed someone, He was acquitted of all charges based on the law where as Marissa Alexander was prosecuted for Aggravated assault with a lethal weapon even though her husband was actively threatening her and nobody was injured.

This is actually a HUGE topic of study in various fields of Social Sciences and Law and the definition of "self defense" is one that is constantly changing and being redefined to the point that even many lawyers will tell you it's hard to say for sure what is and what isn't self defense. We actually have a criminal lawyer that comes in when we do self-defense seminars and every time he says the same thing "There is no guarantee in a self-defense argument and it can vary from judge to judge and jury to jury, but here is the law in Michigan as written..." He then goes on to give case examples of successful self-defense claims and unsuccessful ones and it is surprisingly varied but gives people more knowledge to make the choice that is best for them.
Well, that is pretty much the case with any court cases, it is not so much the law that matters, but the lawyer and court you have.
 

lklawson

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Self defense laws vary country to country and state to state. Most states in the US have "stand your ground laws" and "castle doctrine" but a few have "duty to retreat" laws still in affect. Even in those there is so much variation there is no one standard. Take Florida for example; Zimmerman got away with killing an unarmed teen under the pretense of self defense, meanwhile Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years (later on plea deal reduced to 3 years) for firing a gun, and missing, at her soon to be ex-husband in self defense when he threatened to attack her. In both cases the same defense based on the Florida "stand your ground" laws were used but in the case of George Zimmerman, who actually killed someone, He was acquitted of all charges based on the law where as Marissa Alexander was prosecuted for Aggravated assault with a lethal weapon even though her husband was actively threatening her and nobody was injured.
This is a very great misrepresentation of the Zimmerman case. Among other things, Zimmerman never used "Stand Your Ground" defense.

There was a lot more to it as well that you are either ignoring or do not know about such as Martin bashing Zimmerman's head into the concrete, vowing to murder Zimmerman, and then trying to take Zimmerman's weapon. These facts are a matter of court record. That said, if you spend too much time on this, this thread will get locked.


"There is no guarantee in a self-defense argument and it can vary from judge to judge and jury to jury, but here is the law in Michigan as written..." He then goes on to give case examples of successful self-defense claims and unsuccessful ones and it is surprisingly varied but gives people more knowledge to make the choice that is best for them.
One self defense lawyer that I've read and watched likes to say that in any self defense case, no matter how justified, there is a non-zero chance that you will go to prison for the rest of your life.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

lklawson

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In my much younger years it did, as soon as you become a blackbelt, you needed to register your hands as deadly weapons. I know, sounds stupid, but some states were or still are like that.
No they weren't.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Yanli

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Tell me more? Which states? I'm very curious.
I did further research, it is only U.S. Gaum, and that is questionable. I was in young teens when I first heard about it, yes, a very long tome ago lol. It seemed it was a fad that started with boxers and that, but it was a false fad. I apologize to everyone for mistakenly remembering something from my much younger years, it sucks getting old lol.
 

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