Where is the line drawn between what is considered self defense vs murder?
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Thread: Where is the line drawn between what is considered self defense vs murder?

  1. Where is the line drawn between what is considered self defense vs murder?

    I have always been told that if you are in fear for your life then you have the right to protect it, even if by deadly force. I know every state has different laws but is there a general guideline for where the line is drawn between self defense and murder? I have come across so many stories lately where law abiding citizens shoot an intruder, rapist, or someone who is physically trying to harm them or their family; and they end up getting punished more severely than the person who caused the crime?!? When we are put in a distressful situation are we supposed to take the time out to think, "Ok is my life really in enough danger that I can prove in a court of law I had the right to use my gun?" How threatened do we have to be to be allowed by law to react to the situation with force?

    The reason I am asking is because I have a very special situation. I am a single mom and my son is Type-1 diabetic. We live a very time sensitive lifestyle. Proper scheduling of meals, proper administration time for insulin, and very close monitoring of his blood sugars is his lifeline. If he has a hypoglycemic reaction (low blood sugar) he can be dead in minutes or seconds. My life or my son's life doesn't have to be directly threatened by physical force or some type of weapon in order to put us in a situation I fear for my son's life. Someone simply taking my time and attention away from my son against my will is enough to indefinitely harm my child. If I am being physically or sexually assaulted, even if the person has no intention of killing me after, could be taking my attention away from my son enough that he could have a hypoglycemic reaction. Hurting me to the point I am unconscious (but alive), drugging me to the point I can't think clearly, tying me to a chair, locking me in my room, or even stealing my purse that has my sons supplies in it all put my childs life in immediate danger. My uninterrupted attention to my son is his life support. So how do I determine at what point in time a threat is enough for me to react to by force? In my eyes anything against my will is a direct threat to my sons life. Any type of a threat at all to me would make me fear for my sons life.

    I am just finding it very hard to research online how gun laws would work in my situation.

    Thanks,

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  3. #2
    Somewhere in your town is an attorney who specializes in the use of lethal force. I would suggest that you take the time to find him or her, spend what it takes to get an hour or so of his or her time, and develop a professional relationship with him/her. An armchair lawyer will be of no help if the SHTF in your life. Better to be prepared than to be wrong.

  4. #3
    As you said, it varies by state. Here in Missouri, you are allowed to neutralize the threat of aggression when imminent death or great bodily harm (including rape), to yourself or another, is likely to occur. The nitty gritty to keep you from spending a long time in jail...The attacker needs to be close, probably armed, facing you (no shooting someone in the back that's trying to run away) you have serious wounds or visible signs of an attack, in your home...You get the idea. The more you have on your side, to prove you are an armed victim, acting in self defense, the better. It's also important to remember, if it comes to that, you're going to jail till they get things sorted out. It could be many hours. Given your son's medical issues, you need to get plan b, c, d and e worked out asap. This site, a bunch of others and your local gun range is a great place to go for advice specific to your state. Cops (LE) are a good source of info too as they're first responders. Wouldn't hurt to find a lawyer, ideally one who specializes in self defense cases, but any lawyer can get you out of jail sooner. Memorize the phone number. One last piece of advice that's repeated a lot, when you call 911, ask for an ambulance first, then police. You NEVER want to kill someone, you simply neutralized the threat of aggression. Good luck on getting the answers you're looking for...my guess is this will be an active thread.

  5. #4
    In any of those situations deadly force can be justifiable (except possibly the purse situation... though purse snatching can be very violent), even without your son's condition. Being restrained, being attacked, you can't know for sure if it's going to end in death or not. BG's lie... if they say "Just let me tie you up and I'll leave you alone," how do you know they don't want you helpless so they can assault you any way they please with no resistance?

    A jury is supposed to go by a "reasonable person" doctrine... if you can make them see things from your point of view, then you'll be fine. Education is key... take classes, watch lectures, DOCUMENT your training and you can use it in your defense at trial. Check out the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network... joining for even just a year is well worth the training materials they provide. And the "They" is extremely impressive: Marty Hayes, Massad Ayoob, Dennis Tueller and several other big names. I bet they'd also be able to provide resources about your situation as well.

    Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network, Inc.
    Modern Whig
    "Government is not meant to burden Liberty but rather to secure it." -T.J. O'Hara

  6. #5
    This is not to offend anyone.......Talk to a lawyer. Don't ask cops, don't ask people at the range and don't get legal advise off an internet forum.
    Certified NRA Firearms Instructor
    Oklahoma SDA Instructor
    Utah CCW Instructor

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisdrummer View Post
    Somewhere in your town is an attorney who specializes in the use of lethal force. I would suggest that you take the time to find him or her, spend what it takes to get an hour or so of his or her time, and develop a professional relationship with him/her. An armchair lawyer will be of no help if the SHTF in your life. Better to be prepared than to be wrong.
    The best advice you can ever get is to ask someone that knows. Before you decide that it's too expensive consider what it would cost to have a lawyer defend you on a homicide charge.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by 3gunshooter View Post
    This is not to offend anyone.......Talk to a lawyer. Don't ask cops, don't ask people at the range and don't get legal advise off an internet forum.
    Definitely. Internet is great for getting ideas... but when it comes to legal matters, double-check everything! Including what I say, since I was trying to be as general as possible because states can vary widely.
    Modern Whig
    "Government is not meant to burden Liberty but rather to secure it." -T.J. O'Hara

  9. #8
    And should you ever have to get involved with the police, never, EVER, talk to them about ANYTHING without a lawyer. You can be as polite as you want, but just tell them that you'd been advised to have professional representation before you answer ANY questions. No matter how small, they will try to use anything you say against you. That's their job. Please take the time to watch this: Dont Talk to Police - YouTube

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by FrontTowardEnemy View Post
    And should you ever have to get involved with the police, never, EVER, talk to them about ANYTHING without a lawyer. You can be as polite as you want, but just tell them that you'd been advised to have professional representation before you answer ANY questions. No matter how small, they will try to use anything you say against you. That's their job. Please take the time to watch this: Dont Talk to Police - YouTube
    Some recommend that, others have a different idea. Cops hear bad guys saying "I want a lawyer" all the time... after a self-defense incident you don't want to sound like the BG!

    Massad Ayoob recommends telling the cops 5 things (from a lecture I watched), and the first one anyone should be okay with saying: "That guy attacked me." Giving details is bad, your perception changes when your life is in danger, but that's one thing you can be very clear about without accidentally saying something to make you sound bad. After that, the list goes:
    2. Offer to sign a complaint.
    3. Point out evidence (casings, etc).
    4. Point out witnesses.
    5. Offer to fully cooperate after speaking with representation.

    Not talking at all is certainly fine, just be polite, of course. If you don't trust yourself to not start talking a hundred miles an hour (people do when nervous sometimes!) definitely go that route. Hopefully I'll never have to, but I'd probably follow Mr. Ayoob's advice if necessary.
    Modern Whig
    "Government is not meant to burden Liberty but rather to secure it." -T.J. O'Hara

  11. #10
    You stop the threat. Beyond that, you become the aggressor and dig yourself a very deep legal hole. If in stopping the threat, the bad guy survives, that's fine. If he doesn't survive, that's too bad. If the guys out of the fight, the threat has been stopped.
    NRA Life Member
    NRA Certified Instructor (Pistol & Personal Defense in the Home)
    North Carolina Concealed Carry Instructor

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