May 6th, 2006 07:36 PM
So, how many here have actually talked with a lawyer......
It's interesting how many times we see posted that we should talk with a good defense lawyer about CCW and defense. I had a talk with one last week. Very educational. I chose him by asking a lawyer I know, who does another kind of work, who he'd want to defend him if it ever all went wrong. I now carry his name and number but hope I'll never need it.
As a side note I live in FL where we recently had the expanded castle doctrine passed. His advice was it really didn't change the realities much. He bets that if you had an easy retreat or other option you had better take it, despite the new rules. If not you will find yourself in a sticky situation legally no matter what we may think of the new laws, there has not been much case law yet involving it. The fact that my wife is handicapped does change MY situation if she's with me and I face the worst. We can defend another if the threat is genuine and/or retreat is not an option.
And yes he was emphatic that no matter what the police say, it's the quick bare facts of "I was attacked and had to defend myself, I would like my lawyer now" and NOTHING else.
BTW this lawyer is in the midst of getting his CCW!
So, how many others have actually taken this step or is everyone just hoping for the best and taking the word of people on the 'net?
May 6th, 2006 08:20 PM
My problem really is knowing how to find a reasonably accessible lawyer who is pro 2A - and I don't feel like scouting thru them all to find out.
I know I should tho.!
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
- a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
May 6th, 2006 08:34 PM
P95, I agree. I'd like to have someone on call but not sure. Maybe I'll drop a note to the Buckeye Fireams or Ohio CCW folks and see what they say.
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May 6th, 2006 08:53 PM
I have heard, although I've not yet done this (but need to! ), that a good starting point is with an attorney that has specialized in defending LEO's and / or representing LEO's Unions for on-duty "shoots".
The logic is that the "typical" criminal attorney is very attuned to "plea bargains" in his line of work and thus places a great deal of reliance in their judicious use. To the contrary, an attorney highly experienced in defense of LEO's will not see a "plea" as a defense tool because to do so will typically ruin the career of the LEO. They are more typically attuned to "fight to the death" .
Having said that, I have not explored this concept with others, nor have I begun interviewing attorneys. I was going to start with some LEO's locally that I trust and Martindale Hubbell (attorney specialization reference guide) located at:
Additionally, two more matters are of importance when addressing this issue(s):
Is the "Criminal Defense" attorney the same attorney for the expected "civil" action to follow? My preliminary answer is "No", although the team I would expect to have on my side would include both a criminal specialist as well as a civil attorney that specializes in "wrongful" death civil actions. They would be required to be a team in my defense. I would also expect to have a top-flight attorney on the civil-side that would not necessarily be a Texas Bar attorney (see below).
Is the "local" team (civil and criminal defense attorneys with Texas court rights) aided by the "national" self-defense specialist that has THE national reputation? My preliminary answer to this would be maybe, dependent on the specifics of the case - the complexity, the issues, the assignments of liability, the risks of litigation, etc. The team would make defense decisions, with the help of the appropriate "experts" from "out-of-town" ( ).
Now, that adds up to a lot of money. Yep - maybe I can't afford that quality of a defense. Maybe it was a super-clean shoot and there's no litigation at all ( ). I'll drive off of that bridge when I get to it.
First step - find the guy I have my wife make the first call to. Don't waste your jail-house call on an attorney's weekend answering machine or message service - make that call to a trusted party that get the ball rolling.
Just my .02.
I'd love to hear actual experiences (carefully phrased, of course) and the thoughts of the attorneys, LEO's and others here with a lot more experience than me!
May 6th, 2006 09:47 PM
Rock and Glock said,
I hope you meant you'd drive over that bridge...heh.
I'll drive off of that bridge when I get to it.
As for me, nothing fancy, but since I began to carry a couple of years ago I have made arrangements that include a phone number that my attorney answers 24/7. Like everyone, I hope I never use it!
May 6th, 2006 10:13 PM
One good thing that has come out of the new laws here in FL is that if you are found innocent in the incident you will not face civil suit. If they try, you get reimbursed for all costs. That means more emphasis on being innocent, not plea barganing.
May 6th, 2006 10:34 PM
Not exactly accurate. Being found innocent does not prevent the filing of a civil suit. In fact it has no bearing on a civil suit. However, if a civil suit is filed and the defendant is found by the court to be immune from prosecution then all costs are to be reimbursed. Unfortunately, there is no provision for a defendant in such circumstances to necessarily collect the costs awarded. Most of the time if one finds himself in a situation where he has to resort to a weapon in self defense the aggressor is probably judgment proof. So the award of costs may be meaningless.
Originally Posted by ELCruisr
I am a Florida attorney and have many judgments over the years for a variety of clients which were never collected despite the client having been right and having won. Those judgments are worth less than the paper they are written on.
There are a host of laws in Florida which provide that the winner is entitled to attorneys' fees and costs. Nonetheless, suits are brought daily since the plaintiff has nothing to lose and it may be cheaper for the defendant to pay than to fight, especially when the end result may be a hollow victory.
May 6th, 2006 11:09 PM
dffwv.. since you're an attorney, how do we find a lawyer for these possible situations?
what branch of law/specialty should we look into?
May 7th, 2006 12:36 AM
Nope....I typed what I meant (tired old joke) .....I just think like a Kennedy..........
Rock and Glock said,
I hope you meant you'd drive over
May 7th, 2006 02:10 AM
I know which attorney I would use but have not talked to him about retaining him. When I took my CC class one of the officers giving the course recommended this gentleman. He has seen his work many times and said he is the one he would use. My wife is a former LEO and has seen him in action many times and agrees.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
May 7th, 2006 10:56 AM
When I took my permit class I was given a local card of a lawyer that the instructor recomended. He said to carry it, put the number into our cell phones and keep it there, at least until we find our own legal representation. (this lawyer IS a 2A guy) He may not be a member of OJ's dream team, but it's nice to know that he's just a speed dial away!! (a number I hope goes unused..)
May 7th, 2006 11:31 AM
Contrary to popular belief, your actual first line of defense is your local District Attorney. For the most part, DA's are much more conservative politically than the rest of the bar (this depends on locality of course because a DA in San Fran is more liberal than one in say Salt Lake City). However having worked in and around DA's for going on five years, I think that I am comfortable in saying that DA's tend to be more conservative and more prone to 2A rights. Most of the prosecutors I work with own weapons and several have CCW's or are working on getting one.
When I say your DA is your first line of defense, it is because every case investigated by a police agency (PD's, Highway Patrol, Sheriff's,etc.) is submitted to the DA for review. There the case is reviewed primarily for two things. One, was a crime commited in the first place. A lot of crimes concerning firearms and their use boil down to intent (the exception being carrying concealed without a permit). When there is a shooting, the intent of those shooting is pretty much the key to determining whether a crime has even occurred. If the DA determines that no crime has occurred than the case is rejected.
If the DA determines that a crime has been committed, then the next question is, is there sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a defendant's guilt.
For most of us here who are law abiding citizens who have obtained CCW's for our personal protection and that of our family, the only really important question is the first one. When you have a good shoot which involves you protecting yourself or another from death or great bodily injury (which is based on what you know at the time), then no crime has been committed. All of this of course does not apply when you are talking about playing cop or vigilante. If you do that, then the DA will be less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt even if you nabbed the perp.
Anyway, in a shooting where you protected yourself from an attacker or protected someone else from what appeared to be imminent death or serious injury, there is no crime. The DA will also look at who it is you shot. More than likely, it will be someone with a record probably of violence or serious crimes. Most of your low level criminals avoid personal contact with their victims. Additionally, let's say for a moment that your attacker lives and gives some odd ball story. Then it comes down to who to believe, local street felon or upstanding citizen defending himself.
Probably the citizen and that is due to the fact that local felon is not credible when he talks to the police or if he was put on the witness stand. As a DA I don't like using trash as witnesses even though occasionally it is necessary (this is more when trash fight or do something to other trash). However, upstanding citizens with no criminal record (which is required I believe to even have a CCW) will be credible and someone that I would be looking to believe.
This also means telling the truth when the cops talk to you because when people lie and it is clear that they did, DA's wonder why. Physical evidence will almost always match up with the truth. While I don't think that you need to tell your life story, telling what the attacker did before you drew your weapon, and before you shot at the attacker goes a long way. In fact, the cop may not even think a crime occurred and not submit it for review.
Anyway, that is my two cents on the criminal side of things. As long as you follow the training and only use your weapon in actual self defense or defense of others, I don't think that you will have a problem criminally. Get to know your local DA. You can figure out what kind of policies he has by watching what kinds of cases his office files. Go to forum nights. DA's as for as I am aware are elected officials. Go to a canidates night when your local DA is running for election and ask him about his attitudes about CCW, about guns in general, and about the 2nd A.
As far as civil goes, I think but I am not positive that if your attacker lived and was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon or some other crime, that can be introduced in a civil suit to show that your attacker who is now suing you is scum and was convicted of a criminal offense of attacking you. Most civil juries are not going to feel sorry that your attacker was shot and is upset when he was the oen who commited a crime by attacking you in the first place.
May 7th, 2006 12:43 PM
Before I moved out of VA I had talked with 2 lawyers, the local prosecutor, a judge and numerous LEOs. Worth the time and effort. Now that my residence is in Missouri and I am rarely there I do not have that advantage.
May 8th, 2006 01:37 PM
Find someone who specializes in criminal law. There is no particular specialization for lawyers who do "gun" cases versus others. In reality, the issues are much the same in criminal cases. Some lawyers will have more experience than others. Find someone who has been to trial many times and has courtroom experience. Ask any lawyer you interview how many cases he or she has tried before a jury to a verdict. Find out whether he or she has worked for the state attorney's or district attorney's office and for how long.
Originally Posted by craig45
Gun cases are not really different than other criminal cases. However, in many states there are enhanced penalties where a gun is involved. And, where self defense is an issue, an attorney needs to understand that after the state has met its burden of proving a prima facie case of guilt the burden of proof then shifts to the defendant to PROVE that the use of the weapon was in self defense.
Interview several attorneys. Get referrals from friends who have used the attorney or know someone well who has. Most of us will not have a lot of friends who have had a need for a criminal attorney but they may have a child, grandchild, brother in law, or someone they know well who has. Although, referrals from others may not always get you what you want because most of the time the only basis for the referral is the result that the individual received. There may be little or no understanding of why the result was obtained, luck, poor performance by law enforcement or good lawyering by the defense attorney. Usually the defendant doesn't really care as long as the result is as desired.
Be comfortable with the person you hire and know that the person supports but still guides you in making decisions about the direction of the case. Remember that the attorney's job is not to agree with you about what you should do. It is his or her job to share with you the various options, the truth about the results of you taking those options and his or her personal and professional estimates of the chances of success for each of those options. It is ultimately your decision to take a case to trial or accept any sort of a plea. The lawyer will never pay a nickel of a fine for a crime of which you are accused and he will never do a day in jail. Therefore, the decisions are too important to be left to the lawyers. They can only give guidance and let the person who will have to personally live with the decision actually make it.
Lawyers who do not do criminal defense work are probably not good people from whom to get a referral either. They don't have the knowledge of the actual performance of the attorneys in the courtroom since they don't ever actually get to work with the criminal attorneys doing their jobs.
I wish I could tell you a better way to make a choice should that need ever arise. But I can't. I know lawyers in my area that are well known to the public and have good reputations but I wouldn't let handle a traffic ticket for me, let alone a shooting involving self defense. There are many excellent lawyers who never make it to the newspaper or television but just quietly and exellently do their jobs ethically.
May 8th, 2006 02:02 PM
Cali-DA make some valid points in his post. However, if an arrest is made of the person claiming self defense then all the rules change. The DA still has all of his ethical obligations to properly weigh the various factors in determining whether or not to formally charge. But politics, the current elected administration, the community sentiment and a lot of other things come into play. The DA is the lawyer for the opposition once an arrest is made; even though he may have ethical obligations not to overcharge or improperly charge a crime.
Remember that the 5th amendment gives one the right to remain silent. If a shooting has occurred and you give up that right then whatever you say will be used by the DA to put you in prison if the decision is made to charge you with a crime. Therefore, to all my clients I recommend that they exercise the right to remain silent and call an attorney. I would not ever advise a client to do anything other than tell the truth to the police if he chose to speak. But I would advise the client not to speak until after an opportunity to speak with an attorney.
Regardless of how fair and proper a DA may be. His job is to prosecute crime/criminals. I have seen some examples of hypotheticals and claimed events on bulletin boards and sites such as this one where the writers felt absolutely justified in shooting but were very gray areas as far as the law is concerned. Some were just absolutely law violations. The better advice is to keep your mouth shut until you can have your lawyer take care of it for you. If you are fortunate enough to have any witnesses around then perhaps their statements will be enough to convince law enforcement and the DA not to prosecute. If not, then the statements of witnesses may be used to contradict what you have said to the police. If an attorney is given an opportunity to complete his investigation before his client speaks to the police he may be able to make sure that any problems with witness' statements are dealt with. I don't mean lied around or otherwise improperly handled but dealt with by carefully choosing language to explain the events that don't appear to be radically at odds or will explain the differences.
As a last caveat, those of you who carry cards or names of people given to you by the CCW instructor. Do yourself a favor and find out who they are and whether they can handle the job for you. I have a friend/lawyer whose name has been given out by law enforcement officers for twenty years or longer. He's a nice guy and if you're guilty then he might be right guy to work out a plea. But the truth is that law enforcement likes him because he has similar attitudes to theirs and is nonconfrontational. That makes him a nice guy who is popular with police and DAs but not necessarily a good lawyer. That also doesn't make him a bad lawyer. But the key is to know why the card is given out and what knowledge the person making the referral has about the lawyer being referred. The questions and decisions involve your liberty and quality of life. Beyond that they also involve large sums of money. Develop a knowledge of anyone you might have to hire for $25 t0 $100 thousand dollars. Don't rely on a number from a card from a guy who taught you 8 hours in a CCW course without investigating.
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