Updated: Feb 15
After a self-defense incident, there will almost always be inquiries by police and prosecutors to evaluate your actions. There are really only two ways the authorities can go with their investigations. Were your actions justified self-defense -- or was it a crime? The circumstances and your actions will tell the story.
So, a question to consider is: If you have to defend yourself, how much would you pay upfront to lessen the odds that you will, make a dumb mistake, go to prison, or suffer financial ruin? Let's think about two ways to go - spend nothing or spend a little.
1. You can spent nothing. You can rely on sketchy information from your brother-in-law or an internet guru. You can fall back on incomplete or bad information about self-defense law from a firearms instructor ten years ago. You can rely on myths and misconceptions gathered from your buddies, neighbors, and anecdotal stories.
Unfortunately, that is the extent of self-defense law education of many folks in this country. It applies to those who have been thinking about self-defense for a long time and/or especially those new to the game. Some people carry a gun legally, but have very little idea how to use it legally. That is a recipe for disaster.
If you are not interested in learning about the law, you had better save up some cash, because if the advice from those above sources is wrong, the cost and consequences of being in court is very painful. Operating in the dark about self-defense law is a sure-fire way to make a mistake and end up in court charged with a crime. It happens everyday to normal, law-biding folks who rely on bad sources of information.
What do I mean by painful? Attorneys tell me that to take your questionable case to court, just up to include a preliminary hearing, can cost around $15K to $50K. Can your savings account handle that? You have to remember that a preliminary hearing means that you have already been charged with a crime. A prosecutor has already identified your mistake.
At the hearing, a judge will hear evidence from both sides. If the judge feels there is enough evidence that a crime was committed (and committed by you), a trial will be scheduled. Not good! What you are paying your attorney to do is to convince the judge that maybe, under other circumstances, what you did could be considered a crime, but your actions were justified self-defense.
If your case involves the death of someone, the interest of the prosecutor will be higher and your legal costs will be much, much more. The cost of ignorance is very high. If your case goes to trial, the costs could be multiples of the above figures. What is a better way to avoid mistakes, make good decisions, and stay out of court? Keep reading!
2. Targeted Education - the cost is minimal. Forget all the relatives advice and anecdotal stories. Find a way to get educated about the law from knowledgable sources. The truth is that you simply must know the boundaries of the law before an incident occurs. How else will you be able to make reasonable decisions about responding to a threat? In the few seconds you have to make a decision about how you are going to respond, are you going to leave it up to chance or luck? Knowing the legal boundaries beforehand is imperative. It doesn't matter if you get involved in a fist fight or a gun fight, the rules you must follow are the same. The rules are not all that complicated and there are just five legal elements to study. You don't have to be a brain surgeon or attorney to understand the law.
Surely the chance to stay out of jail by lessening the chance you could make a mistake is worth a small investment in money and time. How much? It is up to you. You can start with some free, credible information that gives you the basics and the motivation to get more. This blog can help with that.
Admittedly, good, solid information is not always easy to find. One great source is Attorney Andrew Branca. His law practice specializes in only self-defense cases. His organization produces lots of free stuff and other reasonably priced resources. A good start would be to invest in his Best Selling book: The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition for about twenty bucks. This book gives you all you need (in plain English) to help you stay on the right side of the law when you have to defend yourself or family. You can decide on further educational material on his website. Find more information at lawofselfdefense.com.
Attorney Branca is the inspiration for this blog and I have studied self-defense law through his Self-Defense Law Academy and graduated as an instructor. Twenty-seven years in law enforcement helps me give this blog some additional insights. I don't take this subject matter lightly. The mission here is to get you the facts and help you defend yourself legally. You have to admit, the cost of ignorance is too high and the cost of education can be well worth it! So, which way will you go - spent nothing or spend a little?
For more information, check out my free blog at selfdefenselawfacts.com