Don’t Depend on Google For Your ‘Self-Defense’ Legal Knowledge …

Written by Greg Hopkins on May 30, 2018

(Continued from Part One here🙂

On top of what I just told you about the complexities of self-defense law, remember that your state law has several other crimes that allow use of deadly force. Most crimes, however, DO NOT allow the use of deadly force. You MUST know their elements as well, AND the deadly/non-deadly differences they have based on differing facts as described by case law.

I hope you’re understanding now that if you guess about criminal law, you’ll likely guess your way into prison. When was the last time some chat-room “lawyer” or gun shop commando warned you to beware of and learn the actual law about any of these things? NEVER? Maybe now you’re starting to see the problem with “I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried out by 6.”. Beware as well of internet “Gun law” lists that claim to tell you what your state’s laws are. One well-respected group’s list says my state is a “Castle Doctrine” state when it comes to Burglary. I’m here to tell you that it is NOT!

It’s as simple as this, folks: your Google DOES NOT trump my law degree PLUS all my years of study and legal experience! If you act on false info like this in response to a criminal act, don’t be surprised if your lawyer says the best he can do for you is negotiate a guilty plea.

Remember, most people, including you, the jury, and to a certain extent your judge and lawyer, are largely misinformed about how violence occurs in the real world, what the law on it is, and what the special things and facts were that legally affected your use of defensive force. You need to be able to explain how your actions were both legal and reasonable so your lawyer can: 1.) understand and apply the correct law to your case, and 2.) hire an expert witness to help you explain it to the jury. THIS is how you establish in court that your actions were justifiable. However, you MUST act justifiably in the first place!

Let’s go back to Scott’s manslaughter conviction and another major fact where self-defense law applies. Scott shot Mustafa as he ran away. Now, can you, at this moment, recite your state’s law on shooting fleeing felons? Can you also tell me HOW that law is affected by the US Supreme Court’s ruling on fleeing felons, Tennessee vs. Garner? You can’t? Scott didn’t know it either, and because he was ignorant, he’s going to prison for shooting a fleeing criminal.

Mustafa’s crime, taking the lunchbox from an unoccupied car, was a Class C felony theft: “Breaking and Entering and Auto to Commit Theft”. As I’ve stated, Scott cannot legally shoot a mere thief under ANY circumstances! But let’s say Mustafa had robbed Scott with a knife (making it a felony), and Scott shot him as he fled. That’s STILL bad for Scott, because the Supremes held in Garner that you can ONLY shoot a fleeing felon when he is a threat to you (he’s turning to shoot at you or run over you with his car), OR he is a reasonable threat to others (grabbing hostages, shooting witnesses, or running THEM over). In other words, once the robbery is over and the robber flees, you can’t stop him with a bullet UNLESS the exceptions I mentioned are present.

Scott is going to prison and Mustafa is dead because of what Scott THOUGHT he knew about the law. Two families are destroyed because Mustafa decided to break the law and Scott couldn’t be bothered to learn the law, so when he reacted out of anger, he broke the law even worse than Mustafa did and destroyed both their lives.

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they did not accept my counsel. They spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naïve shall kill them, and the complacency of fools shall destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil. Prov. 1: 29-33.

It’s time to quit living in Fantasyland about self-defense, folks! Check out Marc MacYoung’s books and videos, as well as In the Gravest Extreme, and Deadly Force by Massad Ayoob, and The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca. These will give you a realistic view of law and self-defense. THEN go learn your state’s law from a competent lawyer who studies these things for a living and tries these kinds of cases in court. The money you spend to learn from him will be FAR less than the money you’ll spend on the trial you could have avoided — HAD you known the law. Only then will all the all the time you’ve spent on a range or in a dojo come into focus and allow you to defend yourself and other innocents in a legal and moral way. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Gal. 6:7.

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Greg Hopkins
Greg Hopkins is a recovering lawyer, city prosecutor, police Use-of-Force law instructor, former city judge in two towns and criminal defense lawyer. He’s been teaching the Bible to teens and adults for 40 years. He now trains CCP holders and armed church security teams in self defense law. He also does expert witnessing in firearms and self defense cases. His book is A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, on the Bible and Self Defense.