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Author Topic: Use of Excessive Force Laws?  (Read 25841 times)

Reaper

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Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« on: October 30, 2002, 12:42:51 pm »

Where do we stand on the current crop of laws regarding "use of excessive force" in your own defense?

I've seen my share of horror stories of people convicted of "use of excessive force" or even manslaughter while defending themselves.

Personally, at this point I'm of the opinion once someone initiates physical violence against you that's it, you can do whatever you feel is necessary at the time to defend yourself.  

I've seen cases like that stripper in vegas who was chased for 4 blocks and repeatedly grabbed and thrown to the ground, escaped and ran each time and then when she was trying to get into her car she was caught again and finally shot the bastard but she went to jail for manslaughter because apparently the court felt she should have gotten out the other side of her car and continued to be chased on foot.  WTH?!

Anyway.  What are your thoughts?
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Reaper
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2002, 04:04:36 pm »

In principle I can see a justification for "excessive force" laws, but they can be tricky to enforce in a just way.  I do think it is excessive force if someone steals your bike out of your garage, and you shoot him in the back as he's riding away.  The standard for shooting a person should be, IMO, "reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or death."  Gray areas exist, naturally.
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Reaper

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2002, 04:48:16 pm »

I'm speaking strictly of the initiation of physical violence against a nonconsenting person, not property theft.  Although some would argue they are the same.

I think in a situation where you are under attack, whether it be with a weapon or an unarmed person there just is no way for someone sitting in a jury room months later to fairly judge what action you should have or could have taken.  It's easy to come up with options in the safety of a jury room.  Hindsight being 20/20 and all, but when someone is swinging at your head, gut or worse you dont normally have time to think calmly and clearly.
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Reaper
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maestro

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2002, 04:49:40 pm »


In principle I can see a justification for "excessive force" laws, but they can be tricky to enforce in a just way.  I do think it is excessive force if someone steals your bike out of your garage, and you shoot him in the back as he's riding away.  The standard for shooting a person should be, IMO, "reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or death."  Gray areas exist, naturally.


But how else are you reasonably supposed to stop the perpetrator?  try to reconstruct his back for a police sketch artist?  

Of course if you're mistaken and his bike just _looks_ like yours you had better be ready to face the consequences of that mistake.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2002, 05:47:05 pm »


I'm speaking strictly of the initiation of physical violence against a nonconsenting person, not property theft.  Although some would argue they are the same.


Okay - but then there are some cases where even physical violence should not be resisted lethally, and where non-physical initiations of force should be resisted lethally.  An example of the former: a drunk guy in a bar throws a punch at you.  Is it then justifiable to blow him away?  Perhaps - if he were part of a gang advancing on you.  But if he's just a random drunk, I'd think not.

Example of the latter: you hear someone break into your house at night, you creep out and see him skulking around stealing stuff.  Is it OK to pump him full of shotgun pellets?  Absolutely!
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

maestro

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2002, 06:01:48 pm »

What if it was possible to arraign a person who acted in self defense, but the burden of proof was on the state to _prove_ he acted _maliciously_.  Thus in the case of a drunken fool swinging at you randomly and without provocation, if you coldly pulled a gun on him and shot him, then you'd go free since it wasn't necessarily malicious.  On the other hand if you provoked him into swinging at you while he was drunk and then shot him with a grin on your face, then you were acting maliciously and provably so.  While a few idiots would get shot for getting doing stupid things, would we really miss those idiots?
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admin

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2002, 06:48:57 pm »


In principle I can see a justification for "excessive force" laws, but they can be tricky to enforce in a just way.  I do think it is excessive force if someone steals your bike out of your garage, and you shoot him in the back as he's riding away.  The standard for shooting a person should be, IMO, "reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or death."  Gray areas exist, naturally.


So if someone is bigger than me they can clean out my entire house and I just have to watch?  I don't really like the idea that it has to be a "fair fight".  If a guy is stealing my property, he has sacrificed a good portion of his rights in my view.

Charles
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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2002, 06:52:39 pm »


What if it was possible to arraign a person who acted in self defense, but the burden of proof was on the state to _prove_ he acted _maliciously_.  Thus in the case of a drunken fool swinging at you randomly and without provocation, if you coldly pulled a gun on him and shot him, then you'd go free since it wasn't necessarily malicious.  On the other hand if you provoked him into swinging at you while he was drunk and then shot him with a grin on your face, then you were acting maliciously and provably so.  While a few idiots would get shot for getting doing stupid things, would we really miss those idiots?


IMO, the state should never file charges against people.  Only the victim of a crime should bring charges (or his wife or insurance company or whatever).

Whether or not the person acted with malice doesn't really address the excessive force question, does it?  If a guy trespasses on the corner of my lawn and I chop him to pieces with an axe, that seems excessive, regardless of my state of mind.

Charles
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maestro

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2002, 07:10:10 pm »

The point is that without motive, you won't be chopping him to pieces over trampling your lawn.  Breaking his legs, perhaps, if you _really_ like your lawn.  

The state should bring charges when the victim is dead, or when the victim is unable to do so (fear for their life (mafia cases), hospitalized and untransportable, etc).  Thus the state should only act for the victim if the victim permits or the victim is no longer able to give permission as a result of the crime.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2002, 08:56:00 pm »



So if someone is bigger than me they can clean out my entire house and I just have to watch?  I don't really like the idea that it has to be a "fair fight".  If a guy is stealing my property, he has sacrificed a good portion of his rights in my view.


If you happen upon a strange guy in your garage stealing stuff, then you can shoot him on the spot, because he has invaded your home, and you don't know what he might do next.  But a guy who's running away from the scene should not be shot - that would be execution, pure and simple.  Now, if he'd just murdered somebody, then sure, shoot him, because if he gets away he may well kill again.  But shooting someone who has stolen something and has departed the scene is to enact a sentence of death for a crime that is now over, and a sentence of death for theft is extreme.  Sometimes it isn't worth taking a human life over a few dollars' worth of property.  Doesn't anyone here believe that?
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

Jhogun

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2002, 09:13:14 pm »

"I'm speaking strictly of the initiation of physical violence against a nonconsenting person, not property theft.  Although some would argue they are the same."

What if a guy grabs my laptop and runs away?  You might say a laptop isn't worth shooting someone over, but I don't make a lot of money.  I saved up for the better part of a year for that thing.  It represents a major investment of time and effort on my part.  If he gets away with it, it's not just a laptop that was stolen, but a good portion of my life that went into obtaining it.  Am I supposed to let him just run off with it?

I tend to agree with the quote above, that property theft is just as much an attack on me as physical violence.  My property was obtained through my own labor and effort, and is a part of me.
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Reaper

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2002, 09:19:53 pm »

But . . . it was MY property I was trying to shoot at!  He just got in the way!  

Yeah, that's it!   ::)

I wouldn't shoot somebody fleeing on my bike or other small items of property.  Now, if they're running off with my life savings . . . I would be severely tempted.

However, in the situation with a random drunk you seem to be assuming a lot of things.  1) That the drunk has no intent to do great bodily harm or murder, 2) That the victim of this assault is able to: a) otherwise safely fend off, and b) otherwise safely put an end to the conflict.  

I've seen few encounters like this and you dont always . . . hell unless your familiar with the person doing the assaulting you NEVER know what they'll stop at.  

Is the victim supposed to, in the time between when the offender starts swinging and the time he makes contact: a) assess the perps sobriety, b) assess the motive if any, c) determine (from looks i guess?) if the perp intends to do serious harm or murder, d) if he can defend himself without deadly force against a foe of unknown ability.  Sounds like an awfully unreasonable burden on an innocent to make in a split second.  

I still seem to think if you initiate physical bodily violence against a nonconsenting person you should thereby have waived your right to file any charges against that person for whatever they have to do to stop you.

I also think people would learn really quick to control their temper.
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Reaper
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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2002, 09:43:19 pm »


If you happen upon a strange guy in your garage stealing stuff, then you can shoot him on the spot, because he has invaded your home, and you don't know what he might do next.  But a guy who's running away from the scene should not be shot - that would be execution, pure and simple.  Now, if he'd just murdered somebody, then sure, shoot him, because if he gets away he may well kill again.  But shooting someone who has stolen something and has departed the scene is to enact a sentence of death for a crime that is now over, and a sentence of death for theft is extreme.  Sometimes it isn't worth taking a human life over a few dollars' worth of property.  Doesn't anyone here believe that?


I understand where you are coming from, but it doesn't seem to work.  Or maybe it does and I just haven't figured out how.

Suppose I'm sitting at a park bench with my new laptop computer loaded with all my personal E-mails, plus maybe a few months worth of writing for my PhD dissertation.  A 300 pound "Ultimate Fighting" champion guy comes up and says, "I'm just going to take your computer.  If you try to stop me, I'll break your neck.  If you just let me go, nobody will get hurt."  I have a gun, but I can't use it because his life is supposedly worth more than a mere computer.  Do I just have to let him go?

I suppose you could say something about shooting him in the leg... should I make him have a gun too?  He could say: "if you shoot me, I'll shoot you dead, but otherwise I'll just leave peacefully."  

Maybe my example is a stretch, but if you can't physically wrestle your property away from the guy, is your alternative only to be a cowboy trick shooter and shoot his gun out of his hand?

Charles
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2002, 09:57:45 pm »


Suppose I'm sitting at a park bench with my new laptop computer loaded with all my personal E-mails, plus maybe a few months worth of writing for my PhD dissertation.  A 300 pound "Ultimate Fighting" champion guy comes up and says, "I'm just going to take your computer.  If you try to stop me, I'll break your neck.  If you just let me go, nobody will get hurt."  I have a gun, but I can't use it because his life is supposedly worth more than a mere computer.  Do I just have to let him go?


I don't think so, because what he's done there is to threaten to break your neck.  That's imminent physical danger; I think you can show him your gun and wave him off, and if he makes an aggressive move, you can shoot him.  But the case where someone makes off with unattended property of yours is different, I think.  That's the bike example I used at first.

Quote

I suppose you could say something about shooting him in the leg... should I make him have a gun too?  He could say: "if you shoot me, I'll shoot you dead, but otherwise I'll just leave peacefully."  


If he's threatening you in that way, though, I don't think there's any way you can trust that he would leave peacefully.  In a case like that, I don't think anyone could be blamed for using lethal force against the aggressor.
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

catsRus

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Re:Use of Excessive Force Laws?
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2002, 10:10:03 pm »


Quote
Posted by: MouseBorg Posted on: Today at 09:24:13pm

I would be curious if, presuming most folks were armed, and could legally shoot when robbed, how such situation would affect the crime rate - pertaining to robbery that is.

"An armed society is a polite society."
-- RAH


I think lethal force is legal in Texas for property crimes in some instances, might want to compare their stats with a state that doesnt.
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