Putting this in the CCW room since the law is often discussed here.
I'm reading a CCW book that I bought at the state fair. One comment made in the book is that (in my state), you can defend yourself against threats, which is pretty basic stuff. But, there is a legal category in my state called "Mutual Combat" where both parties willingly get into a fight. In mutual combat, if one party escalates things too far, it could be tried as a murder.
Seems that if I'm threatened, say, in some parking lot or something, I may start out fighting without a firearm, and it may escalate to needing the firearm. But the danger here seems to be that some DA might think I was involved in mutual combat instead of a self defense situation.
Is this really a gray area, or is it pretty clear cut in real life?
Are those who get into trouble because their SD situation looks like mutual combat that escalated to a murder, When in reality they tried fighting, but that didn't work, so they finished things off with a firearm???
any real life examples?
Don't know myself, but the particulars could allow it to get rather messy.
How did the 'mutual combat' start? Then the one guy grabs a gun to finish it?
To nip it in the bud I'd say avoid the 'mutual combat' at the start.
I'd say the 99% of what LE deals with is either "mutual combat" or criminal activity. When LE shows up, whomever is left standing claims "self-defense" and this is the case in prison assaults as well.
Your job is to convince them that you are the 1% unicorn law-abiding citizen who was doing everything they could to avoid conflict and was assaulted anyway.
First step is that has to actually be true and remained true throughout the event.
Indicators perhaps it wasn't self-defense: witnesses/video of you yelling and cursing. Your body language (again witness or video) that looks like puffing chest, closed fists (as opposed to hands up, palms out, backing away, attempting to leave).
...and...even if you did everything right a witness (either accomplice of theirs or just hostile to you) can still lie to the police and tell them you were the instigator ala "hands up, don't shoot."
I'm in between the "don't say anything" and "cooperate fully" camps.
It makes sense to me to tell the police you are the victim of an assault and would like to make a complaint/file charges. Point out any evidence and witnesses. Just repeat the above when questioned further and/or let them know you'd be happy to make a full statement after you've had a chance to speak to an attny.
This middle approach lets them know you are saying you were the victim of a crime with at least some evidence of that. Then, they run your name which hopefully comes back w/ clean record. They run the other guy who inevitably has a rap sheet. Now, if they hear lying witnesses, they will take it with a grain of salt.
However, if you immediately play the "I'm not talking to you until I talk to a lawyer" card up front, the only info they will have to go on is whatever other info they get elsewhere. Witnesses may taint them into thinking you are the bad guy and they will start building that case (consciously or unconsciously) because that is how humans work.
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Self-defense law will have certain variations from state to state.
As an example, these are the self-defense jury instructions in Michigan. Meaning that if you were charged with a crime and claimed self-defense, these are instructions that the judge would read to the jury.
In Michigan as long as you present some minimal showing that you could have been acting in self-defense, the prosecutor then has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were NOT acting in self-defense.
7.19 Nondeadly Aggressor Assaulted with Deadly Force
A defendant who [assaults someone else with fists or a weapon that is not deadly / insults someone with words] does not lose all right to self-defense. If someone else assaults [him / her] with deadly force, the defendant may act in self-defense, but only if [he / she] retreats if it is safe to do so.
7.18 Deadly Aggressor--Withdrawal
A person who started an assault on someone else [with deadly force / with a dangerous or deadly weapon] cannot claim that [he / she] acted in self-defense unless [he / she] genuinely stopped [fighting / (his / her) assault] and clearly let the other person know that [he / she] wanted to make peace. Then, if the other person kept on fighting or started fighting again later, the defendant had the same right to defend [himself / herself] as anyone else and could use force to save [himself / herself] from immediate physical harm.
7.16 Duty to Retreat to Avoid Using Deadly Force
(1) A person can use deadly force in self-defense only where it is necessary to do so. If the defendant could have safely retreated but did not do so, you may consider that fact in deciding whether the defendant honestly and reasonably believed [he / she] needed to use deadly force in self-defense.
(2) However, a person is never required to retreat if attacked in [his / her] own home, nor if the person reasonably believes that an attacker is about to use a deadly weapon, nor if the person is subject to a sudden, fierce, and violent attack.
(3) Further, a person is not required to retreat if the person -
(a) has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time the deadly force is used, and
(b) has a legal right to be where the person is at that time, and
(c) has an honest and reasonable belief that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent [death / great bodily harm / sexual assault] of the person or another.
|The guy behind the guy|
As a former defense attorney, I would highly, highly suggest no one engage in fighting while carrying a gun. This is something I'd expect only the stupidest of stupid folks to do. I cannot even fathom a hypothetical where it would make sense.
Once you engage in a fist fight, claiming self defense for shooting that person is an expensive uphill road.
I'm confused...wait, maybe I'm not.
|Let's be careful |
Dudes and Dudettes, do the smart thing, and run the hell away. Why fight if you can avoid it.
The way several instructors I know have put it - once you carry, you become the most polite person around. You always attempt de-escalation if pushed. If that doesn't work, try to disengage. You only use the gun if absolutely no other option exists.
You want to show that you were, in no way, part of a mutual combat situation. Plain and simple, your only choice was to defend your safety.
|Just because you can, |
doesn't mean you should
Don’t be in places, or with the type of people where there would be any doubt. Don’t be the type of person where there would be any doubt.
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