Legal

Self Defense Legal Issues – Can You Be Prosecuted For Self Defense

He was hiking up a trail in Coconino County Arizona in 2004 when suddenly a growling dog charged down the path running straight towards him. He quickly pulled his handgun and fired a round in the ground. The dog then retreated to safety, then suddenly an angry man came running down the trail threatening to kill him. Claiming self defense he fired three shots killing the attacking man.

He was hiking up a trail in Coconino County Arizona in 2004 when suddenly a growling dog charged down the path running straight towards him. He quickly pulled his handgun and fired a round in the ground. The dog then retreated to safety, suddenly an angry man came running down the trail waiving his arms threatening to kill him. Claiming self defense he fired three shots killing the attacking man.

This case received national attention, since carrying a handgun is not illegal in Arizona many viewed this as a text book legal use of deadly force. However, prosecutors disagreed and charged the shooter with 2nd degree murder. He was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. This is a common misunderstanding. The vast majority of Americans does not understand the legal issues involved in the use of force for self defense.

There have been thousands prosecuted for unwarranted force used in their self defense. Most were completely shocked when they were charged with a crime. Even if they were not convicted, the cost from their legal expenses and the trauma from prosecution leave many bitter and resentful of our legal system. This is a complex legal issue that very few not trained in the law comprehend, even trained Police Officers have been charged with the unnecessary use of force, and some are in jail.

A friend of mine recently explained that if someone attempted to climb in his window in daytime or night. he would shoot them. I explained to him that even soldiers in combat have rules of engagement. It is foolhardy to assume that civilians have carte blanch permission to use any means of self defense. It is important that we realize that the threat of danger or preventing crimes do not necessarily legally warrant the use of deadly force. Legally, the use of lethal force in an unlawful situation is a reason for prosecution. It doesnt matter if the person actually dies.

Legal Use of Deadly Force

Although the laws in your state may not be exactly the same basically most are unified in this fundamental concept. You can only use deadly force in self defense for protection from serious bodily harm or death. This law also would provide for the protection of others. If someone attacked you with a lethal weapon you can use deadly force, on the other hand, if someone attacks you with their hands only in rare occasions would you be allowed to use deadly force. For example, you are beaten badly, and the assailant refuses to stop.

Legal Use of Non Lethal Force

Using non lethal self defense weapons for protection are the more reasonable approach in most situations. It is highly unlikely you will ever be charged with any crime if you use them in your defense, this includes in the few states where they are banned. The only exception might be if you started an altercation and used the weapon. However, if you did not initiate the attack, using non lethal self defense weapons would be most likely allowed. So if you want to stay out of jail the wise choice would be to use nonlethal weapons, unless protecting yourself or others from serious injury or death.