Defense and Restraining Orders

This is a discussion on Defense and Restraining Orders within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; A friend of mine just asked me this, and I'm at a loss for an answer. Seems that his sister has a restraining order against ...

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Thread: Defense and Restraining Orders

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    Senior Member Array Zsnake's Avatar
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    Defense and Restraining Orders

    A friend of mine just asked me this, and I'm at a loss for an answer.

    Seems that his sister has a restraining order against a guy who is generally ignoring the provisions of same. (Must keep two football fields away from her). She has had him arrested once, but he reappears and does mischief to her property. They have not been able to catch him violating his restraining order a second time.

    If he is in violation of said order, and menacingly close,(NOT the two football field rule) is she permitted to use lethal force?

    This is in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    I'm no lawyer (but I HAVE seen every episode of "Law and Order") but I will say no way just being "menacingly close" makes it justifiable to use deadly force. Now if he is menacingly close and BEING menacing...
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    Member Array steffen's Avatar
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    This question can really only be answered accurately by her attorney.

    In my opinion, her situation doesn't change the rules that require her to be in immediate threat of death or grevious bodily harm before using deadly force.
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    No. There needs to be a whole lot more going on than what you described.
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    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm gonna have to say, "HELL NO". Unless she is legitimately in fear of her life (his mere presence alone isn't enough), she can't use deadly force.
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    Set up a camera...
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    Senior Member Array txron's Avatar
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    No lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night. I would say unless he is immediately threatening her with harm, she cannot use force because he is within the 2 football field distance. However, if it was my sister, I would advise her to be carrying just in case. Sounds like this guy is a wacko.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zsnake View Post
    Seems that his sister has a restraining order against a guy who is generally ignoring the provisions of same.

    If he is in violation of said order, and menacingly close,(NOT the two football field rule) is she permitted to use lethal force?
    Depends on the use-of-force statutes in her state, as to whether the threat is lawful justification for force, or deadly force.

    Here's an overview that might clarify things: Virginia Law on Self-Defense, @ Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL.org).

    Definitely be aware of the statutes and relevant case law. As with anything as serious as the use of deadly force, it would behoove her to speak with a competent attorney knowledgeable about the use-of-force law in VA.
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    Senior Member Array KBSR's Avatar
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    I pray that nobody uses this forum, or any other site on the internet, to determine whether or not deadly force is applicable. Talk to your law enforcement authorities please. Let them know that this apparent wack job is violating the court order, and have him arrested, as many times as necessary. At some point the judge will get tired of seeing him, and put him away for awhile. Sister should remain vigilant and prepared to defend herself when/if wj poses an actual threat to her safety. Be safe.
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    Senior Member Array Zsnake's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your input! I concur!

    Moderator, you can close this one if you so choose.

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    Distinguished Member Array lchamp's Avatar
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    So often, we read that a woman was murdered and she had a restraining order out on the murderer. A restraining order is just a piece of paper with no meaning to someone who will do violence to someone.
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    Full disclosure, IANAL, and this is definitely one of those your local laws will apply situations. Having said that, I am still reasonably confident that the answer would be a solid no. Violation of a restraining order would only give you grounds to call the authorities. Use of force, including lethal force, would still follow normal conventions. Think about it, 2 football fields, 200 yards, 600 ft, about 1/10th of a mile, is a fairly large distance. Unless they have a gun, and more practically a long gun with decent sites or a scope, they are not going to pose an immediate threat and posing an immediate threat is a typically a prerequisite to the use of lethal force.

    In my opinion, restraining orders are almost worthless and in many instances may make a problem worse. The only type of person that they are going to stop is one that is not inherently violent but otherwise may harass,, who doesn't really want to harm you, and who is generally respectful of law anyway. By avoiding contact, you may avoid creating an emotional situation that leads to violence, but that is about it. The order only gives the authorities grounds to act should this person become harassing. On the other hand, serving one to someone may be taken as enough of an affront to cause them to actually commit violence. Once again, you can't prevent crime via legislation.

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    Member Array steffen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    Full disclosure, IANAL, and this is definitely one of those your local laws will apply situations. Having said that, I am still reasonably confident that the answer would be a solid no. Violation of a restraining order would only give you grounds to call the authorities. Use of force, including lethal force, would still follow normal conventions. Think about it, 2 football fields, 200 yards, 600 ft, about 1/10th of a mile, is a fairly large distance. Unless they have a gun, and more practically a long gun with decent sites or a scope, they are not going to pose an immediate threat and posing an immediate threat is a typically a prerequisite to the use of lethal force.

    In my opinion, restraining orders are almost worthless and in many instances may make a problem worse. The only type of person that they are going to stop is one that is not inherently violent but otherwise may harass,, who doesn't really want to harm you, and who is generally respectful of law anyway. By avoiding contact, you may avoid creating an emotional situation that leads to violence, but that is about it. The order only gives the authorities grounds to act should this person become harassing. On the other hand, serving one to someone may be taken as enough of an affront to cause them to actually commit violence. Once again, you can't prevent crime via legislation.
    ^^^What he said.

    I would like to add a few points from an article relating to a book I read, Gift of Fear.
    Robert Fulford's column about Philip Roth, The Gift of Fear, and wife-killers
    ...we know from experience that temporary restraining orders (such as the one intended to inhibit the actions of Ralph Hadley) often fail. They "work best on the person least likely to be violent anyway," the individual who turned brutal at some point but fears the law more than he desires revenge. In the truly dangerous cases, a restraining order gives the potential victim a false sense of security and perhaps further enrages the abuser.

    A woman under serious threat of violence, de Becker believes, must concentrate on making herself absolutely unavailable to the man pursing her. That's her main job. This is profoundly unfair, and many believe the police "should" watch over people like Gillian Hadley, but there's no reason to think they will ever be able to do so. It is the woman herself, or her friends and relatives, who must ensure her safety. The friends must treat her the way they might treat someone with terminal cancer -- as a group responsibility; they must move her to a shelter or refuse to leave her alone for a moment.

    To those who imagine that restraining orders have power, de Becker points out that many such murderers also commit suicide. Defeating their wives matters more than life itself, so they are unlikely to be deterred by a judge's signature. In a study of 179 stalking cases in San Diego, Calif., about half the victims felt their cases were worsened by restraining orders.

    Gillian Hadley also changed her phone number three times to avoid calls from her husband -- a mistake, de Becker would say. Stalkers always discover the new number. Instead, he says, get a second, unlisted number for friends and put voice mail on the first. "The stalker won't realize you've changed, and you'll have a record of his calls if you need it."
    There was a lot of useless commentary in that book, but I completely agree with his recommendations for dealing with a stalker.

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    Distinguished Member Array Black Knight's Avatar
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    Like others here I am not an attorney and she needs to contact one immediately. The first thing she should do is quit talking to people until she contacts an attorney. I know she probably wants to save some money but spending a little now may save her more than money later on. Now would she be justified. No she would not if he is simply "menacingly close". He must do some physical act that she perceives as being capable of doing great bodily harm or could cause her death. He must have the means and the intent to physically harm her. Because someone is walking down the street in your direction with an axe does not mean they intend to do you harm. If they have the axe in their hands and is swinging it while they say they are going to do something to you then you should be fine but juries take hours to decide what you must in seconds or less. She should also file another complaint with the Commwealth Attorney's Office in her jurisdiction. One more thing she should consider is security cameras that are tied into a DVR so they are recording what is done on her property and by whom. This won't stop the damage but it will document it and provide evidence for her attorney, the police, and Commonwealth's Attorney.

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    "If he is in violation of said order, and menacingly close,(NOT the two football field rule) is she permitted to use lethal force?"

    No, but she is allowed to use her Iphone to send a closeup photo of him directly to her lawyer and let him take it from there.
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