John Douglas

A Concrete Blonde

Tag: trust me

What do you say to authorities without incriminating yourself if (god forbid) you ever have to use deadly force?

Posted on March 21, 2014  in Uncategorized

Call 911 – “There has been a self defense use of force, I believe the assailant is in need of medical attention. Please send police and paramedics to [address or location].” HANG UP.

Note that you do not even specify that you in particular were the person using self defense, or that you shot anyone.

When the police arrive – “Officer, I mean no disrespect, but I understand my rights. I have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. I have a right to refuse to consent to any search of my body and personal effects. I wish to exercise all my rights. If I am under arrest, I wish to invoke and exercise my Miranda rights and be allowed to obtain the advice of my attorney. If I am to be taken into custody, I request a reasonable opportunity to make arrangements to secure my own property. If I am not under arrest, I want to leave. If I am free to leave, please tell me immediately so I may go about my business.”

Between calling 911 and the arrival of police, you should have called your attorney. If you are lucky (or live in Detroit), he will get there before the cops.

The advice in the video is given from a very authority deferential point of view. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the police are “on your side” or that if you “act innocent” things will go easier on you. There are lots of personal and institutional prejudices and politics that may put your actions, however justified you feel they were, under scrutiny of a jury. There is absolutely no reason to give the prosecution ammunition.

A great quote from that attorney instructor: “If you are ever involved in a defensive shooting, when the cops show up, you will feel a powerful urge to unburden your soul. You will want to explain exactly what happened and why you were justified so that you won’t feel that the police are viewing you as the guilty party. The police will expect and exploit this situation to get you to talk. DON’T. I would have a lot less work to do if people could just follow that advice. Most of you won’t be able to do it.”

It might help to remember that in most jurisdictions, in legal procedure, you are guilty of homicide, but can prove self defense as an affirmative defense. Notice that once the homicide is established, the burden of proof on the self defense has shifted to you. There is no reason to confess to a felony which you then have to dig yourself out of.

tl;dr – keep your trap wired shut beyond the legally required notification and asserting your rights.

Edit: People keep asking a few questions.

Q: How will I find a good attorney in these circumstances?

If you carry, have an attorney’s business card tucked (or just contact info) right behind your Credit card in your wallet. You’re much more likely to make a better decision on an attorney to trust before you are under the kind of pressure that you will feel after a self defense shooting.

Q: Do you really think the police are going to let you say all that?

Maybe, maybe not. Keep your cool and don’t be baited by their badgering. Only respond to their questions by invoking your rights. Once you have done so, stop talking.

Q: Aren’t you going to get shot by not providing enough info?

The attorney told us to make sure and keep your hands where they can be seen as the police arrive. If the area is safe to do so, put the gun down before they arrive. Follow all direct orders, even if it seems humiliating to have to lay face down on the pavement with your hands behind your head when you are the “good guy”.

Q: Won’t the invocation of these right be irrelevant anyway, since you will almost certainly be searched and detained?

Likely, as far as preventing the search or detention. Accept that you are going to be searched and detained. However, don’t legally consent to either. Comply with orders, but make it clear that your compliance is without consent. This makes a difference that can be important later in determining whether any search or detention was legal or not. If you consent, it was legal, period.

In all probability, you are going to spend some involuntary time with the police. You might even spend a few hours in the local jail. The goal is to prevent that from turning in to a few years or decades in the state prison.

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