What defines a "forcible felony"?

This is a discussion on What defines a "forcible felony"? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm hoping this is the right section, since this is related to our Self-Defense Act which is what allows us to CC. I ran a ...

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Thread: What defines a "forcible felony"?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    What defines a "forcible felony"?

    I'm hoping this is the right section, since this is related to our Self-Defense Act which is what allows us to CC. I ran a quick search and couldn't find anything that seemed to help me.

    Our SDA says in TITLE 21 § 1289.25: "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

    Obviously this means I can use it to defend myself or any other person, which is contrary to what my instructor said, that we could only defend ourselves and immediate family. My question is, what defines a "forcible felony"? I would think this covers aggravated assault/battery, armed robbery, rape, kidnapping... Is that about it?

    Not that I'm advocating chasing after bad guys who stole gum from the corner convenience store, I just have my own personal moral compass that would compel me to intervene on someone's behalf in certain situations, and I'm trying to figure out just how I should respond in some of those.
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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Paaiyan,

    I am not from never been to and know nothing more about Oklahoma (Your state of residence as is undefined in your post...I had to reference it from your user info) than how to spell it.

    That said though, going only by the statute you posted as a quote I read things differently than you do, which is same as what you state your instructor (I assume to be a civilian CCW course) had advised you.

    This is why;

    A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    Note my specific areas of emphasis using bold and underline.
    I do so for specific reason.

    The statute has a qualifier requiring that "a person" [defender] be "attacked", as in order to support and allow..."so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

    The qualifier requires that the person be attacked.

    This is key as to be attacked is not same in meaning as say to be witness to (i.e. You see a car jacking in progress a block away and think hey let me go insert myself into this to offer aid) or informed of (i.e. A friend calls you and says that her/his mental ex BF/GF is at the lawn yelling obscenities and that the friend is in fear).
    As well it does not allow one to meet force on force, "including deadly force", unless the action is against the person intending to use such force. Meaning you can't act as a proxy as in on behalf of another.

    While as to forcible felony, that generally means a felonious act as presented/affected with a degree of force or threat to do same.
    But you would be best contacting your local attorney generals office, by letter, to request specific citation of where 'forcible felony' might be defined in the OK statute (I could not find it) AND also ask how they deem such a crime as related to their own charging practices and conviction efforts.

    Again I want to say and emphasize I know jack o' lantern about Oklahoma other than how to spell it.
    I seriously couldn't even point it out on a US map if my life depended on it.

    - Janq is off to Google Maps to learn where the heck is OK in relation to states that I do know of

    Edit:
    I learned something new today.
    Oklahoma is directly north of Texas, east of New Mexico, south east of Colorado and north west of Mississippi; All being states I have been to.
    "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 ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Definitions vary by state, of course. Basically, it's a felony-grade crime in which physical force is being used against you to commit that crime. For example, money laundering or grand theft auto are both classified as felonies, but neither is a forcible felony since no person was physically abused or forced during the crime. However, add in that element in taking the car, then you've got carjacking, which most certainly is a forcible felony if physical force is used to threaten or harm the person during commission of the crime. As you indicate, forcible felonies are the "hands on" serious crimes such as murder, robbery, rape, and a few others.

    From the statute you identified, it seems to me you'd be reasonable in intervening to stop a rape, armed robbery or attempted murder in progress if you saw it happening. Those would qualify as forcible felonies of another. That use of force definition is seeking to describe the scope and limit of your right to self-defense, for yourself or others, in situations where life is on the line. It effectively legally authorizes you to commit the degree of force you believe necessary, though it also grants authority of others (in the jury) to determine if those actions were reasonable in the situation.

    Before guiding your behavior based on definitions, review your state's statutes on the use of force, check with an attorney who is competent in the use of force and self-defense laws in your state. As always with legal realities, check with experts in your own state.
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    Janq I think you have misunderstood the statute as it clearly states:

    "if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

    I take that to mean a person who witnesses an act which will/can cause death or great bodily harm to me or someone else "another" or to prevent the commision of a crime can use force to stop said act. The individual does not have to specifically be attacked. I also read it as if you are lawfully at a place you have no obligation to retreat and can stand your ground and use force to prevent injury or the commission of a crime.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    Member Array TBob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Before guiding your behavior based on definitions, review your state's statutes on the use of force, check with an attorney who is competent in the use of force and self-defense laws in your state. As always with legal realities, check with experts in your own state.
    +1. Florida prints up a very nice booklet that explains it all very clearly. VA relies on case law in this area, which is much murkier. Don't know about OK, but a good defense lawyer with the right experience in self-defense cases will.
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    I may be wrong,

    but I think that this may also fall under "Good Samaritan" rules. Would be careful, though!
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    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    I see each "or" as as identifying a separate possible situation.

    I could not find any definition of "forcible felony" in the Oka statutes and this would seem to indicate that there is no such animal, other than using a recognized legal definition of same.

    http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com...lony-class.htm

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacman605 View Post
    Janq I think you have misunderstood the statute as it clearly states:

    "if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

    I take that to mean a person who witnesses an act which will/can cause death or great bodily harm to me or someone else "another" or to prevent the commision of a crime can use force to stop said act. The individual does not have to specifically be attacked. I also read it as if you are lawfully at a place you have no obligation to retreat and can stand your ground and use force to prevent injury or the commission of a crime.
    Tacman,

    That though is only the latter half of the sentence.
    The whole of the sentence including specifically the preface also clearly states;

    A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and [The AND adds the following qualifier] who is attacked [End of qualifier] in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force,...
    Its a single long/run on sentence with no commas except the grouped pair to include allowance of "deadly force".
    The sentence states in so many words 'A person...who is attacked', may make actions "including deadly force".

    As to the item of "retreat" and having "the right to stand his or her ground" I agree with you there.
    That too is clear per the statutes language as written verbatim.

    Again I would advise the OP to contact in writing his local stat attorney generals office (typically there is an office in every county of a given state) and ask them in so many words for clarification as to how they in function view that statute as related to charging standards and prosecution.
    At the end of the day what they think and say is all that matters; As aside from case law.

    To me this sentence reads to say if it's not your fight then it's not your allowance to either stand ground (thus requiring retreat as/if/when possible) and you may not use force against force, including deadly force, to prevent harm to another (ones self is moot because to that end one is allowed as per the wording of the statute) OR to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    I could be wrong here because as once more I don't know jack about OK statutes as practiced per writing.
    But the OK attorney generals office, they are experts on same. In the past when I've had question about a state statute that's who I've contacted, FTW.

    - 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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  10. #9
    Member Array TBob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paaiyan View Post
    I just have my own personal moral compass that would compel me to intervene on someone's behalf in certain situations, and I'm trying to figure out just how I should respond in some of those.
    Here's the problem with that concept. If you and/or your family are being attacked, you will likely have seen the situation develop from the beginning or close to it. You will know all or almost all the facts up to the point of engagement. Hence, you will be in as good a position as possible to make the right decision in the use of deadly force.

    However, when you encounter a situation that you didn't see progress to its current stage, you don't really know what led up to the altercation. I just don't mean in the last few seconds, but in the last few minutes/hours/days. You don't necessarily know who the original victim was. The possibilities are endless. You could mistake a victim for an attacker if the victim has turned the tables. People could have been arguing or fighting in another location and continued to the present location, so you have no idea who started what. You could step into a nasty domestic dispute where the victim later sues you for shooting her husband even though he was beating her - and she'd likely win because you'd be portrayed as a trigger-happy vigilante with a super hero complex. You could mistake a vigorous romp in the bushes by an adventurous couple for a rape in progress. The list goes on. The correct response is to call 911 and be a good witness. A CC permit isn't a badge. You aren't trained the the laws, on community policing standards for those laws, on how to handle domestic disputes with minimum force, or even on the proper escalation of force in that jurisdiction. When you draw your firearm, by heaven, you'd better be 100% right because your life will change dramatically no matter what happens next.

    That's not to say that there aren't situations where the facts are pretty clear and action would be warranted. I'm just saying that type of clarity is much rarer than most people think. You first have to ask yourself, "what do I really know about this situation?" Even a good moral compass can steer you into the rocks if you don't know the terrain.
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    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    I understand TBob, and I understand where you're coming from as well Janq. I would never just jump into a situation without knowing for sure what I was doing. I'm just getting other opinions on the statutes here so I can more fully understand them. I'm not a law student or anything, but I figure this is a pretty important thing I'm carrying around with some pretty hefty responsibilities attached to it, so every now and then I pick a part of the statutes to examine and pick apart.
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Agreed with TBob 100%.

    Exactly what he has stated above has been and is stated/suggested to others very often, albeit not as clearly and concisely with really good real world this has happened condition examples as he provided.

    My rule of thumb is to leave the police work to the police.
    My arms as carried/kept by me are tools for emergency use only (!) as for use toward extraction from emergency situations only.

    Akin to my auto insurance and the fire extinguishers in my home.
    I witnessed an auto accident Saturday (My wife & I drove up to it just 2 seconds after initial impact as we heard the thump/crunch and the cars had ceased to have motion).
    Did I think to leap out of my car and offer either use of my AAA card? Nope.
    I called the business line of my town PD as programmed into my cell, and amazingly they had already taken a call about it in the seconds that had passed and were attempting to respond. We drove on minding our own business.
    As well if my neighbors house caught fire would I think to grab one or three of my fire extinguishers and run with those across the street to rescue their family cat and pet fish? Nope.

    There is moral compass and there is what is most reasonable; And then there is the law.
    It sounds to me that the OK statute sentence is an attempt to out flank and negate those with a moral compass who might think it the 'right' thing to do to loan persons their AAA card and run into neighbors homes with their fire extinguishers.

    Not to say that such persons with amoral compass that points in such a direction are wrong or unreasonable, per se.
    But as it goes to guns and civilian Joe Blow use of lethal force moderation must be applied and is expected.

    - Janq

    P.S. - Some folk have a 'moral compass' that would direct them to use force and even _lethal force_ to even the point of taking a human life, so as to protect/retrieve easily repaired/replaced property or even because some other cat might have looked/leered at or made cat call whistle toward his/her mate/spouse at their side.
    In the moment moral compasses may point one way. But then step back for a moment later while seated in a courthouse and that same compass can and does for many people featured in news reports at this forum wind up pointing to an opposite cardinal direction.
    In addition to a compass, we who carry arms might/should also invest in a GPS for finite measurement of momentary location. As an analogy.
    "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 Guantes's Avatar
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    The section is redundant, in that an attack on " himself" or "herself" of "another" that can be reasonably expected to cause GBI or death is a forcible felony and allows the use of force under the section regardless if the force user was themself attacked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TBob View Post
    +1. Florida prints up a very nice booklet that explains it all very clearly. VA relies on case law in this area, which is much murkier. Don't know about OK, but a good defense lawyer with the right experience in self-defense cases will.
    Indeed it does and Florida is also really good about having all of its statutes readily accessible on line.

    In Florida FS 776.08: "Forcible felony" means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.
    "To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence." Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Member Array TBob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paaiyan View Post
    I understand TBob, and I understand where you're coming from as well Janq. I would never just jump into a situation without knowing for sure what I was doing. I'm just getting other opinions on the statutes here so I can more fully understand them. I'm not a law student or anything, but I figure this is a pretty important thing I'm carrying around with some pretty hefty responsibilities attached to it, so every now and then I pick a part of the statutes to examine and pick apart.
    I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. :-) You are pursuing a wise course. Stay safe!
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  16. #15
    Member Array TBob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    Agreed with TBob 100%.

    Exactly what he has stated above has been and is stated/suggested to others very often, albeit not as clearly and concisely with really good real world this has happened condition examples as he provided.
    Thank you for your kind assessment.
    "To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them"
    - George Mason, American Statesman (1725-92)

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