Question about when it is considered appropriate to defend myself and to what degree.


GabbyDP

GabbyDP
I was sitting in my Law class a few weeks ago and the teacher mentioned that someone is only able to use physical force if their life is in immediate danger, for example, he said that an individual is not able to shoot someone if their car is being stolen. But I am a little bit confused when it comes to distinguishing between "your life being in immediate danger" and if someone has intentions of harming me (in my home, in a dark parking lot, wherever; I'm a female, you get where I'm going with this..) If I happened to be carrying concealed or open and I have a permit to do so, to what degree am I able to defend myself? Granted, I do not carry, but I would love to have a better understanding of how I could best handle the suggestion. If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it :)
 

I'm not a lawyer, not pretending to be one. Here's how I look at the situation and offer my thoughts.

The judicial system isn't so much about what you "know" as much as it is about what you can "prove". With that in mind, you can look at shooting someone stealing your car in several ways. Depending on the situation, shooting the guy stealing your car may be justifyable. You will have to prove to the jury that your life was jeopardized by the act in question. If you're safe and sound in your home, and some BG decides to steal your car out of your driveway, then shooting the BG wouldn't be justifyable. OTOH, if you're stuck in the middle of the desert and it's very hot (triple digits), and your car contained your food, water, etc. Cell phone coverage was zero, then shooting the BG may be justifyable. Would any reasonable court convict or even charge you for doing what you had to do to prevent certain death? I would hope not, but then again as the saying goes "better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6". IMO, "deadly force" should always be a "last resort". I would take an opportunity to get outta there over deadly force any day. Being a female, you may be judged differently than a male in a similar situation. The various "desparity of force" theories come into play in your case.

My recommendation would be to consult with a competent criminal attorney (don't bother with the law professors, as they may have their own agenda). Go over various situations and scenarios with your attorney. Keeping in mind that no two situations will be exactly alike you will at least get a good idea of what the best course of action is in any particular situation.

Keep in mind that laws vary from state to state. Check with an attorney familiar with the laws of your state. When traveling, keep in mind that the laws may be different. Since I do a great deal of traveling, I have a general set of rules I follow that would be "leagal" in most states. Before I travel to a particular state, I check the laws to be sure that what I intend to do will be legal.

Hope I was able to answer your question.



gf
 

rrc1962

New member
In TN if someone is in your house, it is assumed that your life is in danger. Some of the more candid LOEs will tell you if you shoot someone on your property, (1) make sure he's in the house and (2) Shoot to kill. It was, maybe still is, the same in NC. I had two home invasions when I lived there in the 80's. Both times the BG was shot in the house and I returned fire. One was fatal. No charges were filed against me in either case. The BG that survived was shot and killed about 6 weeks later breaking into another house. No charges filed in that case either.

Personally, I don't think I'd feel my life were in immediate danger unless I saw a weapon of some sort. It's not the sort of thing that you can say this is right and this is wrong. What is justified in the use of deadly force for you may not be for me. If I can defend myself without drawing a firearm, I'll do it. You may not have that option. I think pulling the trigger should the last resort. There should be no other way out of the situation.
 
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rrc1962

New member
In TN if someone is in your house, it is assumed that your life is in danger. Some of the more candid LOEs will tell you if you shoot someone on your property, (1) make sure he's in the house and (2) Shoot to kill. It was, maybe still is, the same in NC. I had two home invasions when I lived there in the 80's. Both times the BG was shot in the house and I returned fire. One was fatal. No charges were filed against me in either case. The BG that survived was shot and killed about 6 weeks later breaking into another house. No charges filed in that case either.

Personally, I don't think I'd feel my life were in immediate danger unless I saw a weapon of some sort. It's not the sort of thing that you can say this is right and this is wrong. What is justified in the use of deadly force for you may not be for me. If I can defend myself without drawing a firearm, I'll do it. You may not have that option. I think pulling the trigger should the last resort. There should be no other way out of the situation.
 
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GabbyDP

GabbyDP
I'm not a lawyer, not pretending to be one. Here's how I look at the situation and offer my thoughts.

The judicial system isn't so much about what you "know" as much as it is about what you can "prove". With that in mind, you can look at shooting someone stealing your car in several ways. Depending on the situation, shooting the guy stealing your car may be justifyable. You will have to prove to the jury that your life was jeopardized by the act in question. If you're safe and sound in your home, and some BG decides to steal your car out of your driveway, then shooting the BG wouldn't be justifyable. OTOH, if you're stuck in the middle of the desert and it's very hot (triple digits), and your car contained your food, water, etc. Cell phone coverage was zero, then shooting the BG may be justifyable. Would any reasonable court convict or even charge you for doing what you had to do to prevent certain death? I would hope not, but then again as the saying goes "better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6". IMO, "deadly force" should always be a "last resort". I would take an opportunity to get outta there over deadly force any day. Being a female, you may be judged differently than a male in a similar situation. The various "desparity of force" theories come into play in your case.

My recommendation would be to consult with a competent criminal attorney (don't bother with the law professors, as they may have their own agenda). Go over various situations and scenarios with your attorney. Keeping in mind that no two situations will be exactly alike you will at least get a good idea of what the best course of action is in any particular situation.

Keep in mind that laws vary from state to state. Check with an attorney familiar with the laws of your state. When traveling, keep in mind that the laws may be different. Since I do a great deal of traveling, I have a general set of rules I follow that would be "leagal" in most states. Before I travel to a particular state, I check the laws to be sure that what I intend to do will be legal.

Hope I was able to answer your question.



gf
Thank you :) Definitely helped answer my question. The idea still seems difficult though; its hard to determine what falls into the category of my life being in danger, or if I'll just be taken advantage of but he won't kill me. Seems like a tough situation. I'd like to go with the theory that I will never be in that situation but I'm not willing to rely on that! Thank you for the advice :)
 
Thank you :) Definitely helped answer my question. The idea still seems difficult though; its hard to determine what falls into the category of my life being in danger, or if I'll just be taken advantage of but he won't kill me. Seems like a tough situation. I'd like to go with the theory that I will never be in that situation but I'm not willing to rely on that! Thank you for the advice :)

I'm a firm believer in going with your "gut instinct". If something doesn't feel right, it's safer to get outta there, then to wish you had. It's rare when you're not able to "come back later" to accomplish what you need to.

Many SD situations end with the victim saying stuff like "that guy seemed a little wierd, but I figured that if I hurry up, I'd be gone before he could make his move" or "I wish I had followed my gut".

Remember that SA is your first defense. If the situation looks a little dicey, get outta there. Whatever's going on cannot be more important than your personal safety.



gf
 

GabbyDP

GabbyDP
In TN if someone is in your house, it is assumed that your life is in danger. Some of the more candid LOEs will tell you if you shoot someone on your property, (1) make sure he's in the house and (2) Shoot to kill. It was, maybe still is, the same in NC. I had two home invasions when I lived there in the 80's. Both times the BG was shot in the house and I returned fire. One was fatal. No charges were filed against me in either case. The BG that survived was shot and killed about 6 weeks later breaking into another house. No charges filed in that case either.

Personally, I don't think I'd feel my life were in immediate danger unless I saw a weapon of some sort. It's not the sort of thing that you can this is right and this is wrong. What is justified in the use of deadly force for you may not be for me. If I can defend myself without drawing a firearm, I'll do it. You may not have that option. I think pulling the trigger should the last resort. There should be no other way out of the situation.
I've heard similar things regarding self-defense if you are in your own home. I don't know for certain the laws about that in PA but I've gotten the impression that the same law applies.

I don't think I'm as concerned about my life being in danger as I am about being taken advantage of so to speak. I've found that some guys, not all guys, I don't at all intend to be critical or generalize; but I have found that in some situations guys are very inappropriate and make some decisions that they shouldn't have made/that are morally and/or lawfully unacceptable. And so I think that that is a greater concern for me personally, than my life being in danger. And I'm sure that its all based off of experiences because had I been in a situation where I felt that I was in danger of someone taking my life my concerns would be different.
 

GabbyDP

GabbyDP
I'm a firm believer in going with your "gut instinct". If something doesn't feel right, it's safer to get outta there, then to wish you had. It's rare when you're not able to "come back later" to accomplish what you need to.

Many SD situations end with the victim saying stuff like "that guy seemed a little wierd, but I figured that if I hurry up, I'd be gone before he could make his move" or "I wish I had followed my gut".

Remember that SA is your first defense. If the situation looks a little dicey, get outta there. Whatever's going on cannot be more important than your personal safety.



gf
Agreed :) If there is still the possibility of getting up and leaving that's always first on my list :)
 

Canis-Lupus

New member
Hesitation works for the BG.

Heads-up rrc1962,
"Personally, I don't think I'd feel my life were in immediate danger unless I saw a weapon of some sort." Chances are good the BG may have a gun. Do U know that a fit BG can close 20 feet on a victim (U) in <3 seconds, with a good 6" Buck knife, then he/she is just as lethal as if they were packing a .357 mag. Either way inside your house as a uninvited midnight trespasser/burgler with even just bad breath I figure U have the right to stop them, with a gun ("Halt & on the floor fast!" is your call or if BG does not halt & drop, oh well!), why not? U may not live long enough to figure out what the BG is packing if U hesitate. "If I can defend myself without drawing a firearm, I'll do it." In the dark, your fight/flight buzzing with a BG rushing you, you may not have many other less lethal options left that R sure to stop a BG inside your home without your permission/and you fearing for your life. :bad:
Stay smart, stay legal, stay safe & survive,

C-L
 

rrc1962

New member
Heads-up rrc1962,
"Personally, I don't think I'd feel my life were in immediate danger unless I saw a weapon of some sort." Chances are good the BG may have a gun. Do U know that a fit BG can close 20 feet on a victim (U) in <3 seconds, with a good 6" Buck knife, then he/she is just as lethal as if they were packing a .357 mag. Either way inside your house as a uninvited midnight trespasser/burgler with even just bad breath I figure U have the right to stop them, with a gun ("Halt & on the floor fast!" is your call or if BG does not halt & drop, oh well!), why not? U may not live long enough to figure out what the BG is packing if U hesitate. "If I can defend myself without drawing a firearm, I'll do it." In the dark, your fight/flight buzzing with a BG rushing you, you may not have many other less lethal options left that R sure to stop a BG inside your home without your permission/and you fearing for your life. :bad:
Stay smart, stay legal, stay safe & survive,

C-L
I agree with everything you said. It depends on the situation. A weapon does not have to be a gun. Baseball bat, knife, hammer, big screwdriver, etc. Both times I had to fire, it was return fire, so not much guess work there as to what their intentions were. It depends on the situation. You may not be able to see a weapon, but the intentions of the BG may be so clear that a visible weapon isn't needed to fear for your life. Weapon or no weapon if the particular situation warrants deadly force...Well, that's why we carry.

A also agree that a very loud "Halt, get on the ground. You're scaring me" or "Halt..or I'll fire" is a great idea especially when out in public. If you shoot someone and people in the vicinity heard you warn the BG but the BG still kept coming, they will testify to that in court. It will draw their attention to what is going down and establish you as the GG and him as the BG. If all they hear are gunshots and see the BG going down, they will testify that all they saw was you shoot a man. For all they know, you shot the guy over a parking space.

It's an interesting discussion because I'm sure the question of "When do I fire" is always a tough one. You have seconds to analyze the threat and react and you're right, a one second delay may be one second too long.
 

HK4U

New member
It varies from state to state but here is what the penal code in Texas says:

Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

(1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

(B) to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

(b) The actor's belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor's occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor's habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and

(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.

(c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.

(d) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (c) reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5316, ch. 977, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 235, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2007.
 

GabbyDP

GabbyDP
It varies from state to state but here is what the penal code in Texas says:

Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

(1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

(B) to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

(b) The actor's belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor's occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor's habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and

(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.

(c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.

(d) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (c) reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5316, ch. 977, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 235, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2007.

Very interesting, so it does apply for situations other than the obvious "life is directly in danger" Do you know where I can find the laws for PA? :)
 

HK4U

New member
Pa should have a site where you can check it out like Texas does. Perhaps a google search for Penal codes for the state.
 

GabbyDP

GabbyDP
Pa should have a site where you can check it out like Texas does. Perhaps a google search for Penal codes for the state.
I wasn't able to find the official codes for the state. Lots of opinions, and some advice from an attorney, and the codes for Texas! But didn't find them for PA. If anyone happens to come across them I would appreciate it if you shared where you found them :smile: thank you!
 

Piece Corps

New member
In Florida (really simplified), whether or not you're home, you have no obligation to retreat from a perceived threat, and if that threat is a possible life-threatening situation, you may use deadly force. And if you perceive another's life to be in danger, you may use deadly force (as that guy did in the convenience store situation about a week ago here in FL). The wording is something like, ""necessary to prevent death, great harm or the commission of a forcible felony". So if you're being car-jacked, you could use deadly force.
 
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W

wolfhunter

Guest
PC, if the threat is in your home, business, or vehicle it is assumed (by law) that the threat is life-threatening. AND we have protection against civil suit.
 

GabbyDP

GabbyDP
In Florida (really simplified), whether or not you're home, you have no obligation to retreat from a perceived threat, and if that threat is a possible life-threatening situation, you may use deadly force. And if you perceive another's life to be in danger, you may use deadly force (as that guy did in the convenience store situation about a week ago here in FL). The wording is something like, ""necessary to prevent death, great harm or the commission of a forcible felony". So if you're being car-jacked, you could use deadly force.
That's helpful, thank you :smile: I'm concerned about having a difficult time differentiating if my life is in danger or if my car is just being stolen. For example, if someone is taking my car, unless he's holding a weapon against me I probably will not make the assumption that he's going to kill me. Or, if I'm at a gas station and a group of guys approach me, I may not think positive thoughts about the outcome, but I don't think I'd make the assumption that they would kill me after the fact. But I think, if I understand correctly, I am allowed to defend myself if if falls under sexual assault or the like.
 

gdcleanfun

Banned
That's helpful, thank you :smile: I'm concerned about having a difficult time differentiating if my life is in danger or if my car is just being stolen. For example, if someone is taking my car, unless he's holding a weapon against me I probably will not make the assumption that he's going to kill me. Or, if I'm at a gas station and a group of guys approach me, I may not think positive thoughts about the outcome, but I don't think I'd make the assumption that they would kill me after the fact. But I think, if I understand correctly, I am allowed to defend myself if if falls under sexual assault or the like.
Gabby, criminals are going to commit many violent crimes all at the same time to get what they want. If someone is stealing your car, whether or not he or she is holding you hostage, with or without a weapon, THEY CERTAINLY MIGHT KILL YOU AFTER THE FACT, EVEN DURING THE FACT. DO NOT ASSUME OTHERWISE! If you are ever in a situation where you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about the outcome of that situation, THEY MIGHT CERTAINLY KILL YOU AFTER THE FACT, OR WHILE IN THE PROCESS. If someone is trying to sexually assault you, YES, THEY MAY KILL YOU THEN AS WELL. Never think the best of the bag guys/gals. Think the worst and act accordingly. That's how you will stay alive!

(Capital letters are for adamant emphasis!)
 

maybejim

Maybejim
That's helpful, thank you :smile: I'm concerned about having a difficult time differentiating if my life is in danger or if my car is just being stolen. For example, if someone is taking my car, unless he's holding a weapon against me I probably will not make the assumption that he's going to kill me. Or, if I'm at a gas station and a group of guys approach me, I may not think positive thoughts about the outcome, but I don't think I'd make the assumption that they would kill me after the fact. But I think, if I understand correctly, I am allowed to defend myself if if falls under sexual assault or the like.
If someone is going to take my car or my money (excepting stealth), they are in fact having to threaten my life. I'm not in the habit of handing over whatever someone asks for just out of the goodness of my heart.
 

rrc1962

New member
If someone is going to take my car or my money (excepting stealth), they are in fact having to threaten my life. I'm not in the habit of handing over whatever someone asks for just out of the goodness of my heart.
And even if you did there is no guarantee that the BG won't shoot you anyway.
 

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