Self Defense and the Use of Force

Self defense and the use of force is a subject which crops up in court cases from time to time where someone has been injured in a street fight or a brawl in a nightclub.

Even when you’ve genuinely acted in self defense, you’ll end up in court if the other person has been badly hurt or killed. This will usually be a criminal action, where the authorities are not convinced you used minimum force, or maybe they don’t believe you were attacked at all.

The other reason could be that you’ve hurt or disabled your attacker, the police may have been perfectly satisfied that what you did was justified self defense… But now he’s got himself a lawyer and he’s using the courts to get back at you… This is another possible scenario.

The courts are not interested in what’s right or wrong. They only took at what ‘The Law’ says. And while it’s slightly different in each state or country, it basically says you are allowed to defend yourself if you believe you are in real danger, but you can use only the minimum force sufficient to stop your attacker (or attackers).

Here’s where the shades of gray come into it. It often becomes an argument in court whether:

(a) Were you really attacked, or did you over-react? Perhaps you just imagined it.

(b) And even if you were justified in reacting forcefully, did you use too much force to defend yourself?

For this reason, some self defense experts teach you to shout things at your attacker, so any witnesses can hear what you said and will remember it later.

Consider what you should be heard to shout out loud

You can shout “Let Me Go!” or “Get Back! I have a (name your weapon) gun/tazer/pepper spray and I’ll use it… Back Off, NOW!”

It is also good if your potential witnesses can hear phrases like, “Stop it! You’re hurting me!” before you let loose at an attacker.

These actions can make you look less like an aggressor to a judge or a jury, so they are worth remembering.

Of course, if there are no obvious witnesses within hearing, it could be safer for you not to give your would-be attacker any clue to any defensive moves you may be contemplating, and skills you have or any weapon that he hasn’t spotted yet. Surprise can be a superb ally.

If you can actually find those witnesses afterwards, and that’s a big ‘if’, then they can testify in your defense later. That will help convince the court that you did the right thing. But who says you’ll be able to find those witnesses or that they’ll want to get involved? Potential witnesses are often looking the other way, or get mysteriously struck deaf and blind at the most inconvenient times. So if you think you have a witness, do get their full name and their contact details immediately you can.

Otherwise, your biggest fight could well be in the courtroom later on.

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One thought on “Self Defense and the Use of Force”

  1. My words to the jury would be.

    “If Mr Evil had not broken into my home (Replace with relevant situation) we would not have crossed paths and therefore I would not have had to defend myself and my family.”

    Apparently in the UK there is more sway if you state that you were in fear of your life. Not your wife/child’s life YOUR life.

    Clearly I’m no legal expert, just something I heard.

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