Whether you are forced to use your firearm to defend yourself in your home or on the street, the sad reality is that you might not be out of danger. The internet is full of news stories in which defensive shooters face murder charges. It sounds ridiculous, and it is, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen and couldn’t happen to you. If you have a firearm in your home, and especially if you carry a firearm with you in public for protection, you need to know how to handle the legal aftermath of a defensive shooting.
Here are some tips:
- Report the crime that you defended against. Whether it was at your home or in public, you cannot shoot someone without reason. Refraining from making a statement is NOT an option. You need to report the crime you defended yourself against in order to legally justify your actions.
- If you are the one calling 911 give a description of yourself so that when the responding officers arrive they do not mistake you for a threat when they see you armed.
- Comply with the demands of the responding officers. They have every reason to fear for their lives, as you just did. Comply for everyone’s safety. (make no sudden movements, comply with any requests, be polite and reasonable as possible)
- Don’t say more than you need to. While you do need to report the crime you defended against, you don’t need to give every single detail, trying to while your adrenaline is still pumping is only going to increase the risk of you giving out inaccurate information without meaning to. The important things to include are the crime, the number of suspects, other potential witnesses, and your fear for your life or in the case of a third party defense, your fear for the life of another innocent victim. Never say that you shot to kill, only that you shot to defend or to stop the threat.
- If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent (use this right). All further statements should be made through your lawyer. Don’t speak to anyone, this includes, E.R. nurses if you are being treated for injuries, jailers, fellow prisoners, and even friends or family.
It’s a shame that we have to think about defending ourselves with deadly force, that is the world that we live in. It’s even worse that we have to think about being prosecuted for it afterwards, but that too is a reality.
Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer. You should always consult an attorney before/while dealing with law enforcement. If you are ever in doubt use your right to stay silent and contact legal representation.