5 Key Truths About Using Lethal Force in Self Defense
The general idea of defending yourself with lethal force may seem pretty simple on the surface, but there’s a big difference between the general idea of defending yourself and the specific circumstances surrounding an act of self defense.
A lot can go wrong when you use a gun to defend yourself. It’s not about what you do as much as what you can “prove” to authorities when they show up to investigate why there’s a dead body on the ground.
Bottom line, any time you use a gun to defend yourself, you run the risk of legal trouble. Is this the way it should be? No. But that’s the reality and you need to be prepared for it.
Let’s review some basic concepts you should keep in mind.
Death from self defense is still considered HOMICIDE!
It is illegal to shoot people. Whether you’re in the right or not, this is the default position the law takes when considering the use of deadly force. And this is where the investigation begins when authorities show up at the scene.
Even when the evidence is overwhelmingly clear and there can be no doubt whatsoever that you acted reasonably, it is up to you to prove an “affirmative” defense.
What is an affirmative defense?
In most legal cases, the burden of proof is on the state. A prosecutor must prove you are guilty of the crime of which you are accused. You don’t have to prove anything.
To quote from Wikipedia:
In an affirmative defense, the defendant may concede that he committed the alleged acts, but he proves other facts which, under the law, either justify or excuse his otherwise wrongful actions, or otherwise overcome the plaintiff's claim. In criminal law, an affirmative defense is sometimes called a justification or excuse defense. Consequently, affirmative defenses limit or excuse a defendant’s criminal culpability or civil liability.
A clear illustration of an affirmative defense is self defense. In its simplest form, a criminal defendant may be exonerated if he can demonstrate that he had an honest and reasonable belief that another’s use of force was unlawful and that the defendant’s conduct was necessary to protect himself.
In short, this means that when you defend yourself with a firearm, the burden of proof is on YOU. You admit that you committed homicide, but you must prove that the homicide was justifiable under the law.
There are many serious crimes you can be charged with.
Every situation is different, and if you are unable to mount an effective defense, the resulting legal charge depends on the facts of your case. Potential charges and the punishment for each can include:
- Capital Murder – Life in prison without parole or death
- Murder – Life or up to 99 years in prison
- Manslaughter – Up to 20 years in prison
- Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon – Up to 20 years in prison
- Deadly Conduct: Discharge of a Firearm – Up to 10 years in prison
- Criminally Negligent Homicide – Up to 2 years in state jail
- Deadly Conduct – Up to 1 year in county jail
You may have to defend yourself TWICE for the same crime.
There’s one thing TV crime shows teach everyone about the law: you can be prosecuted only once for the same crime. Right? Wrong. There are TWO legal systems in the U.S. There’s the Criminal System (the State vs. You) and the Civil System (Another vs. You).
So even if you survive a criminal trial, you can still be charged in a civil trial where, to put it bluntly, the purpose is to punish you financially. The burden of proof is much lower in a civil trial, so it’s easier to get a judgment against you than in a criminal trial.
You must be prepared for both. Spending your life in prison is a terrible fate. But spending your life paying off a massive financial bill may not be much better, and it’s a burden that can not only ruin your life, but the lives of your entire family for years or decades.
Answer honestly: Can you REALLY shoot someone?
That may sound like a ridiculous question. After all, that’s the whole reason you bought a gun, or carry a gun, in the first place. You know the world can be a dangerous place and you want to be ready to defend yourself effectively.
However, mentally planning to shoot someone and actually shooting someone standing in front of you are two different things. There are many people who are simply not able to pull the trigger when that life-or-death moment arrives. Human beings are programed to feel aversion to taking other human lives. And there are many documented cases where people have been armed but unable to shoot.
While we strongly believe that you have a right to use deadly force when someone is threatening your life, we also believe you should be willing to think about self defense realistically. If you just can’t imagine pulling the trigger and watching someone’s life fade away, you need to admit that to yourself.
On the other hand, if in your heart, you know you have the will, perhaps even the moral duty, to pull the trigger in order to protect yourself or your loved ones, even if that act may result in the death of another human being, read every page that follows.
Because shooting someone could be the most grave decision you ever make and it carries with it heavy responsibilities and sometimes overwhelming consequences.
This is an excerpt from our Free Report, 7 Proven Strategies to Survive the Legal Aftermath of Armed Self Defense. Click here to request a copy.