Nightmares (or pipe dreams) About Prosecution for Self-Defense **Merged**

This is a discussion on Nightmares (or pipe dreams) About Prosecution for Self-Defense **Merged** within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Okay, I have been reading a lot of the posts here, and a lot that have been posted previously. One of the topics that seems ...

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Thread: Nightmares (or pipe dreams) About Prosecution for Self-Defense **Merged**

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Nightmares (or pipe dreams) About Prosecution for Self-Defense **Merged**

    Okay, I have been reading a lot of the posts here, and a lot that have been posted previously. One of the topics that seems to keep reoccuring is that even if you are in the right, you will still face a lengthy trial, and you will still incur sky-high attorney fees and court costs. In short, that defending your life will just about ruin your life. I did a google search trying to find out how often this happened. (disclaimer: I only wanted to find a TX related case, I know there are crazy things that happen in other states). Anyway, I couldn't find one...not even one where even a questionable self-defense case made it even past the grand jury. I did find this article that I thought was very intersting though...Maybe this explains the Night and Day attitude many of us Texans have towards self-defense vs some of you guys that live in the North or East.

    • Move to Texas! « Concealed
    The shootings came fast, a bang-bang-bang cluster of cases starting in early autumn that quickly had police, prosecutors and the media wondering about the sudden impact of Texas’ new castle law.

    Salvador, Dennis Baker’s Mexican red-headed parrot, tipped him off to a burglar at his Dallas home in October.

    A business owner who lives at his West Dallas welding shop killed two men in three weeks as they tried to break in.

    A 79-year-old homeowner in east Oak Cliff, awakened by his dog, struggled with an intruder before grabbing a shotgun and wounding the man.

    A retired Army warrant officer managed to kill a gun-wielding robber at a Far East Dallas dry cleaners after his wife surprised the intruder and handed her husband their own 9 mm handgun.

    Texas has long had a reputation as a shoot-first-ask-questions-later place, dating back to its frontier days.

    But the spate of shootings begs the question: Did the castle law – which gives people the right to use whatever means necessary to protect themselves and their property without fear of civil liability – unleash a flurry of gunfire?

    Perhaps just as important, has the law changed people’s perceptions about fighting back? Are they more likely to shoot first even when safe retreat may be an option?

    “I think the castle law has more citizens thinking about fighting back, knowing they’re protected from being sued later,” said Dallas homeowner Dennis Baker.

    He shot and killed a burglar in October after seeing the man enter the garage where he stored thousands of dollars worth of tools.

    But Dr. Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University, doesn’t think the castle law governs someone’s thinking when they hear a window softly opening late at night, or the crash of a door coming down in a home invasion.

    “In situations in which people would be making a decision to use defensive violence, it’s very unlikely they’d be thinking about laws and penalties,” he said. “That would be the furthest thing from their mind.”

    Certainly the castle law has become a high-profile addition to the Texas statutes since it took effect Sept. 1, but police and the district attorneys association argue that it brought little substantial change.

    While it appeared to apply to each of these cases, so did a batch of other laws, along with the tradition of Texas juries giving people every benefit of the doubt when protecting themselves, their families and their property.

    None of these property owners was charged. Police referred a few cases to the Dallas County grand jury, which declined to indict. In others, police determined that the shootings were justified.

    Police’s take

    And they see the rash of shootings as part of a normal cycle, not a trend.

    Dallas police homicide investigators said they’ve yet to encounter a self-defense situation since the castle law took effect that would have been barred under previous laws.

    “There may come a time when that’s not the case,” said Lt. Craig Miller. “But I would have to look at each of those under its own merits.”

    Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said he didn’t know of a single Texas case in which the castle law would have made a difference.

    “The reality is Texas grand juries routinely no-billed deadly force cases under the old law, which was very lenient,” he said. “Many of the cases that you read about center on defense of property laws, which were always very, very lenient in the use of deadly force.

    “That’s just how Texas is.”

    ...
    So, I guess I wanted to hear from Texans and non-Texans and see how much does where you live determine your actions and whether or not you would intervene. I was reading the Thoughts/Rant post http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...ghts-rant.html and I just couldn't fathom why there was so much of a difference of opinion about whether or not to interfere in a woman getting stabbed repeatedly, especially on a forum with a membership like this one has.
    I was looking for a pattern and it seemed that those from Tx, Arkansas, and the more southern states would definitely interfere, at the drop of a hat, so to speak, and those that would be a 'good witness' came from more liberal areas. Any truth to this?
    Also, does anybody know of any cases where a good shoot was actually prosecuted and destroyed somebody's life(in TX)? (will readily admit that a good shoot does change people's life, emotionally, spiritually, etc, but I am thinking more in terms of financially)
    Last edited by Kerbouchard; January 28th, 2008 at 02:19 PM.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Berney,

    Texans and Texas law toward as much are _very_ different than the rest of the country.
    Several states require by law a grand jury review when any firearm is used against a human being whether the person die of his injuries or not.
    This is very much costly in time and dollars.

    Further a situation being a 'good' or reasonable shoot is no guarantee that a prosecutor might not have a 'anti-gun' agenda and see you as an opportunity to make a name for himself or his agenda. Lots of people have been owned to this end and the stories aren't difficult to find, many of them having been featured at this site in the not so distant past.
    Oh, and a person doesn't have to be found as being guilty for their life to be ruined. Simply being taken to court and forced to upset your entire life and/or go into deep debt to attorneys to defend yourself in court is ruination in and of itself. Win, lose, or draw. Then there is public sentiment as well. Examples toward that in specific have also been featured here multiple times again in very recent times.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    How is a grand jury expensive? You aren't there, your lawyer if you have one, isn't allowed there. The only person that presents any evidence is the prosecutor. You can't call witnesses, therefore no expert testimony is paid for by you. The only cost to you would be if you were indicted, and faced trial, which I failed to find a time when that happened, to a civilian(not LEO, Border Patrol, etc).
    And you are right, Tx laws are much different, which is why I asked if where you live plays in what decisions you make. Based on your response, Janq, it seems like it does.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    It's expensive in time that you have to spend explaining yourself and motivations and reasoning along with thought processes to the police, which may go on for hours, days, or weeks in review.
    And then you are waiting to hear if the DA will run you up the flag pole or not. When it does happen now you've got more stress and the deal goes to GJ. They then decide yes it was a good shoot and let you go or they decide or by law (such as in MA) are required to send you to court to defend yourself.
    Meanwhile even as it's sitting at GJ you should have an attorney on retainer to handle your interactions with the police prior to the GJ becoming involved and to have on tap in the event the GJ does send you to trial.

    In all this time you are taking off from work using up your sick leave, suffering from nightmares losing sleep, not eating due to the stress, and your neighbors might be demonstrating outside your home daily making your life a living hell. And you were the good guy aggressed against.

    For a recent example in TX to be specific run a search here on the key words "Joe Horn".

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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    VIP Member Array matiki's Avatar
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    I don't let it concern me too much. I live in WA and the law is somewhat restrictive... but... generally it's pretty logical (contrary to what many alarmists may tell you). Our challenge - for WA - (IMO) arises from a lack of protection against civil suit.
    "Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must." - The Duke of Wellington

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    VIP Member Array matiki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    For a recent example in TX to be specific run a search here on the key words "Joe Horn".
    Ugh. That's a guy shooting someone over a T.V.

    I suspect the OP wants that addressed, but would rather hear about interceding in violent attacks - as they referred to a woman being stabbed repeatedly.

    I do giggle when I hear Joe head out the door and rack his shotty though.
    "Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must." - The Duke of Wellington

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Joe Horn has not been charged, and the GJ will probably give a no-bill. I almost guarantee it. He shot two illegal aliens who were burglarizing his neighbors house. They had over $2000 worth of cash, jewelery, etc. He deserves a medal, and I would love to have a Joe Horn as a neighbor. The article referenced in my first post talks about Joe Horn and the unlikelyhood that he will be charged based on Tx Defense of Property laws. If the neighbor says he asked Joe Horn to look after his house, it's a guaranteed No-bill.
    Both were illegal immigrants from Colombia, authorities said. Torres had been deported to Colombia in 1999 after serving time for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Both were also using fake identification cards and aliases, and their backgrounds are now being scrutinized by federal authorities to determine if they were part of a Colombian fake ID and burglary ring, authorities said.
    We don't prosecute people for killing people like that...
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    I live in a very "gun friendly" state, not too far from TX.

    With that said, I have had to defend myself with a former employer to try and keep my job after using a firearm, within policy I might add, to stop a criminal actor. My current employer, Federal Agency, will not back any actions I take off duty. Basically I am on my own.

    Since I am on my own, and have a responsibility to my family first, why should I subject my family to possible financial hardship, loss of a loved one (me if I get killed intervening where I didn't have to) and the emotional turmoil that shooting someone entails?

    By my State's laws I cannot defend property using deadly force. Criminals can and do sue you when you shoot them. So why should I face that risk if I don't have to? Also, lets not forget the big one; "Any actions taken off duty will not be considered within the scope of employment."

    To me there is right, and there is reality. I live with the reality of where I am located and whom I work for. So in short, yes, where I live influences my decisions, but probably not as much as you might think. Having been in two "Armed Encounters" I have no desire to replicate the actions again if I don't have to. If you are stealing my TV, fine have at it. If you are coming towards me or a loved one you may want to rethink that action.

    I'm looking at moving to TX or OK when I retire, but that's a long ways off.

    Biker

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    Since we got people from all 50 states here, I am sure that there will be many varied answers. Although the mental state of some people from less gun friendly states absolutely floors me sometimes, I do understand that there are many factors that influence the decision making process,state laws being a big one.

    I just wish that there was some uniformity to the thing. We have had shootings right here in my county where the shooter never left his/her home,never got arrested, never was out so much as one cent....other than what it costs to fire a bullet.

    Same scenario, two states over, would have resulted in loss of job,house, hundreds of thousands in legal fees and possibly even civil suits...even it was ruled a justifiable shoot.

    That just goes to show that it is different everywhere you go. I've had some discussions with some of my cousins up North, that thought RAPE was no big deal and not worth taking a life over, whereas ask anyone from my hometown and its an automatic shoot...no questions asked. Lots of disparity there.
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    I don't recall reading posts that stated that even if you are involved in a clearly justifiable use of deadly force that you will face a lengthy and expensive trial. What many of us have written is that you need to be certain that what you think you are seeing happening is, in fact, what is happening, because if you are wrong, and for that reason the use of deadly force is held not to be justifiable, then you can be in deep trouble.

    And, as was stated, there can be a myriad of other reasons why a proscecutor will elect to indict. The Duke lacross case outrage, although not involving a shooting is, however, illustrative of the point.

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    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    I don't recall reading posts that stated that even if you are involved in a clearly justifiable use of deadly force that you will face a lengthy and expensive trial.
    I can give you one. It was ruled a "Justifiable Shoot" during the initial OIS Investigation, but to appease a certain segment of society the Officer was indicted and faced a murder trial.

    Luis Alvarez was the Police Officer accused of Murder, Janet Reno was the Prosecuting Attorney. There are more too, it's not that uncommon for an officer to face murder charges if it will help a politician win votes from certain segments of society.

    In short it's "Damned if you do, Damned if you don't" situation for me. Even if you are not indicted, only a fool would, IMHO, talk to the investigators without an attorney present. Of course I'm talking about a "Justified Good Guy" not a "Joe Gangbanger" type shooting either.

    I believe Harold Fish's shooting was ruled "Justifiable" during the initial investigation too, but again, to appease a certain segment of society he was indicted and subsequently found guilty. Jimmy Hecksel was another case of an LEO indicted and later found "Not Guilty".

    Once you shoot, you just became "Joe Gangbanger" in the eyes of the Investigators, until proven otherwise. In short, you are Guilty until proven Innocent.

    Now, ask me again why I want to use a gun in defense of a third party off duty?

    Biker

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    It has always confused me why LEO face more scrutiny in a shooting than I do, as a civilian. It seems like some prosecutors would rather prosecute LEO than a civilian. For instance, the border agent shooting. That was ridiculous.
    I understand that there are people from 50 states here, and that opinions vary. I just don't understand how they vary so much. I figure we probably have close to the same moral code. The same outrage at injustices and BG's trying to take over the street. I started this post because I couldn't figure out where the difference in when and where we would interfere came from. As I was reading the article I referenced in the first post, I started to think about it and realized a lot of the, "my gun is here for me and my family, only" sentiment seemed to come from places where the law was vastly different than TX. Has anybody here moved from a anti state to a pro state, or vice versa? Did you keep your concealed carry permit during the move? Did it change the way you think about your and other's defense?
    I had the unfortunate experience of having to live in San Diego for about 4 and a half years, and my guns stayed in TX, so I guess I can say, that for me, at least, the state and laws that have jurisdiction over me, definitely influenced my behaivor.
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    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikerRN View Post
    I believe Harold Fish's shooting was ruled "Justifiable" during the initial investigation too, but again, to appease a certain segment of society he was indicted and subsequently found guilty.
    For those unfamiliar with this story here is an objective and relatively complete account:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15199221/

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Again, the Harold Fish shooting was in Arizona...Not Texas, and based on the article, the medical examiner, and the people who knew the victim I am not sure it was a good shoot, I don't believe I would have shot in that situation. But you never know. I wasn't there.
    I am completely willing to stipulate that other states have allowed their representatives to skew their laws and move to a guilty until proven innocent stance.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    Although I am inclined toward the pro-intervention position, I would point out that being sued by little Johny's grieving mother is at least as serious a threat as being prosecuted.

    After all, Johny was really a good boy who just fell in with the wrong crowd. He didn't deserve to die for it!

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