Know When Deadly Force is Appropriate and What Happens Next
Americans have the right to protect themselves and their property. Laws may vary by state but there are definite situations where one is legally protected in using deadly force. Proper considerations must be taken into account during a specific circumstance. If you own a firearm, learn about the repercussions if you find yourself shooting in self-defense.
Situational Awareness and Good Judgment is Essential
It is necessary to fully think about the situation and determine the proper amount of force necessary to disarm and attacker or an intruder. When using deadly force in self-defense, a proper defense will need to show that:
- Deadly force was justified.
- Deadly force was necessary.
- Deadly force was a reasonable response to the situation.
- Death or substantial bodily injury was imminent.
The majority of states permit the use of deadly force in self-defense or to protect others. However, the situation can be such that a person can be charged for the act and found guilty. There are times that a person cannot shoot someone in self-defense. The following factors can be held against you and you can be found guilty of a crime if:
- You provoked the attack.
- You are not in immediate danger.
- If the attacker lacks the ability and opportunity to use force against you.
In general, states recognize that deadly force is necessary if a person is committing a felony. Definitions of a felony may vary from state to state. Typically, aggravated robberies, aggravated sexual assaults, burglary and those crimes punishable with the death penalty are felonies. Some states want individuals to escape from the situation if at all possible, rather than face the attacker or intruder.
You Shot Your Attacker: Now What?
Your heart is beating a mile a minute and the immediate danger is gone. Take a moment to collect yourself and be ready to follow proper procedures and protect yourself:
Call 911 and report the incident. Provide only the essential information to the operator as an attorney is not present at this time. Provide the location, tell them that you were attacked, your attacker is shot and request medical assistance when necessary. Everything you say is recorded on a call and will become part of the official record. Do not get into any details of the situation during the call.
Call your attorney and any emergency hotlines at your disposal. If you are a member of a legal defense program such as Firearms Legal Protection, call their emergency hotline number. A reputable attorney will either meet with you during your interactions with first responders and police or offer instructions about your next steps. Listen carefully to attorney instructions and take notes if necessary. Anything that you say to police and 911 is part of the official record.
Expect first responders and law enforcement to arrive. Multiple parties will arrive on the scene. First responders will preserve the scene of the incident and provide any medical attention necessary. Law enforcement will work the scene and begin talking to all parties involved. Be polite and helpful but invoke your right to remain silent until your attorney arrives. Wait to give your statement to the police until then.
Anticipate being handcuffed, booked and brought down to the precinct for interrogation. Police have the obligation to get a full statement. Have an attorney present and do not disclose details until they arrive. An investigation will ensue and in the best case scenario, charges are dropped. Other alternatives include being required to post bond or being held for arraignment.
Understanding your rights and the process will help to prepare you for the situation, should it unfold.