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Posted: 2/7/2006 9:49:09 AM EDT
OK, let me first preface this by saying that I'm a non-confrontational person. This is just a hypothetical that I thought of. So, here it goes:

I'm confused on MD law and exactly when self defense is deemed justifiable. Hopefully you guys can help. So, here's a situation. It's 4 am, you wake up and look outside to someone trying to steal your car (you don't make payments, this isn't the repo man). I guess the correct answer is to call the police, you either call or don't call. You grab your nearest AR or handgun and head outside to scare him (or her ) off--I've heard stories of this happening. #1--do you get close to them to try to catch them? #2--is confrontation smart? So, you go to confront them. You yell "STOP!" with your rifle/handgun pointed at them and they come after you with a knife/gun/anything very harmful. Are you justified in shooting them? What if you're not on your property anymore, you're in the street. This is the last thing you were hoping for, you were just trying to detain them while law enforcement arrived (you did call them, right?).

So, how would this situation play out? Were you breaking the law? Just curious, my car is worth nowhere near my life
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 10:53:23 AM EDT
I think you would be in trouble in MD. Even without looking it up, I'd say that you were not justified in bringing out the threat of lethal force to stop a car theft. Your (hypothetical) car IS insured, right?

This is NOT the same as me saying I don't think car theives deserve to be shot.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 11:18:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By squeky:
OK, let me first preface this by saying that I'm a non-confrontational person. This is just a hypothetical that I thought of. So, here it goes:

I'm confused on MD law and exactly when self defense is deemed justifiable. Hopefully you guys can help. So, here's a situation. It's 4 am, you wake up and look outside to someone trying to steal your car (you don't make payments, this isn't the repo man). I guess the correct answer is to call the police, you either call or don't call.


Correct. Call the po-po.


You grab your nearest AR or handgun and head outside to scare him (or her ) off

Besides being tactically unsound. There is no state that sanctions the use of deadly force to protect property when the lives of innocents aren't involved.


#1--do you get close to them to try to catch them?

No


#2--is confrontation smart?

No


So, you go to confront them.

Congrats you just initiated the start of the violence. The perp (or his kin) now have a legitimate claim to all your worldly goods (car/home/bank account) after the civil trial - which they WILL win.



You yell "STOP!" with your rifle/handgun pointed at them and they come after you with a knife/gun/anything very harmful. Are you justified in shooting them?

No because:
1) You had the ability to avoid the situation.
2) You had the ability to retreat from the situation
3) You escalated the situation.

And it aint just MD - most states would at a minium put you on trial if there was a shooting (even if you win you are out tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.


What if you're not on your property anymore, you're in the street. This is the last thing you were hoping for, you were just trying to detain them while law enforcement arrived (you did call them, right?).

That makes it even worse. Now they can tack on the fact you were carring a weapon w/o a permit on public lands...

FYI True story that happend about 10 years ago in Baltimore. It happened to a neighbor of a friend (and former coworker) of mine.

This neighbor wakes up at night hearing a noise outside his window. He looks out and sees two punks beating up a neighborhood kid on break from College. He grabs his handgun - unloads it (he just want's to 'scare them away'), and has his wife call 911. He goes out and stays on his stoop (thus never leaving his property) and manages to get the beatings to stop and hold the perps there till the Baltimore police arrive. When they arrive they arrest the homeowner for 'brandishing' and carrying a firearm in public. Even when an hour minutes later the kid's parents were down at the police station telling the police how this 'good samaritan' litterally saved their kid's life the police held him over the weekend till the magistrate got in on Monday. The punks were on the street before the 'good guy', and their lawyer was paid for by you and me.

Now do you really think they will allow you to do the same with a LOADED weapon over a car?
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 11:22:39 AM EDT
This is another EXCELLENT reason why anyone who uses a firearm for self defense should take a proffessional 3-5 day training course with their chosen firearm. I specifically recommend the FIRE Institute not just because they are good trainers, and have very reasonable costs, but because the 2nd day legal lecture (given by a lawyer who's experienced in these matters) will open your eyes to the implications of when it is and is NOT a good time to use force. No BS stuff, and he uses actual cases to illustrate his points.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 11:48:41 AM EDT
Great responses, thanks. Crazy story Forest, wonder if that would happen anywhere else in MD besides Baltimore city/county and Monkey county. So bringing the threat to the perp would be considered enticing violence?


There is no state that sanctions the use of deadly force to protect property when the lives of innocents aren't involved.


At what point are lives threatened? When you feel threatened and they brought it to you? Any home invasion where you feel threatened? Does anyone have any reading materials from something like the Fire Institute? Thanks.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 12:24:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/7/2006 12:26:35 PM EDT by Forest]

Originally Posted By squeky:
Great responses, thanks. Crazy story Forest, wonder if that would happen anywhere else in MD besides Baltimore city/county and Monkey county.


Definately PG, Most likely Howard & Anne Arundle. The other counties are more rural/conservative leaning so you'd be more likely to be praised by the LEOs for the same situation (note the situation was not about defending property).



So bringing the threat to the perp would be considered enticing violence?


Sure, you're the one who grabbed the gun and went out to meet him.


At what point are lives threatened?

That is always the 'sticky' point and is subject to the SPECIFIC situation and facts. It's also the reason why you NEVER talk to the cops (though you will want to) and why you shouldn't try to talk your way out of them taking you in (just assume if you fire - you WILL be taken in). Talk to a Lawyer BEFORE you talk to the cops.


When you feel threatened and they brought it to you? Any home invasion where you feel threatened?

A home invasion is an definate 'Ok to use deadly force' situation. But again, expect to be taken in and booked. There are lots of rules. Like at night you can assume the worst, while in daytime you have less leeway. I've been told in a course I took here in MD a number of years ago (3 hour introductory course) that not only do you have to feel threatened, but the person has to have a weapon AND it must be pointing at you.

Now even if that is true (I honestly don't know that courses instructor was not a lawyer) this is a good reason why you need to talk to a laywer first. Suppose that is a 'rule' in MD, if you told the cops you shot the burglar when you saw he had a gun - and the cop asks you was it pointing at you. Maybe it was - maybe it wasn't, your answer may be the difference between no problems and being pulled before a grand jury.


Does anyone have any reading materials from something like the Fire Institute? Thanks.
FIRE does pass out materials, but I don't recally anything on this particular subject. As Pete will show you it's vastly complex and depending on the facts of the specific situation the results can change. Again Pete will have cases to illustrate this. It's not a simple 'If X and Y then you can do Z' kind of thing. There is one thing Pete did give me that relates to these scenarios. It's a business card I keep in my wallet. On one side it has the following:



I'm sorry officer, but my Attorney has advised me that if I am ever involved in, or witness to, any kind of shooting, I am not to make any statements to anyone or answer any questiosn of any kind until I have spoken to him. I would like to confer with my Attorney, and I do not wish to answer any questions until I have done so.


On the other side is a place for an Attourney's Name, day & evening number and the name & phone number of someone who can contact that attorney for me. Note that is very important - because at 3am when you're in jail after shooting that home invader you will only be able to call one time. Call a person you KNOW you can get in touch with - and have your attourney's contact information available to them already. If it's your wife you'll be calling - have the attourney info posted on the refridgerator or someplace that is EASY to find (don't put it in a rolodex, on the computer, or in a drawer). That person should be trying to contact the attourney for you. If you're single you and a buddy could cover for each other - or if you have a parent or sibling make sure they have a copy of your attourney's card in their wallet or on their refridgerator.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 3:22:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By squeky:
OK, let me first preface this by saying that I'm a non-confrontational person. This is just a hypothetical that I thought of. So, here it goes:

I'm confused on MD law and exactly when self defense is deemed justifiable. Hopefully you guys can help. So, here's a situation. It's 4 am, you wake up and look outside to someone trying to steal your car (you don't make payments, this isn't the repo man). I guess the correct answer is to call the police, you either call or don't call.


Correct. Call the po-po.


You grab your nearest AR or handgun and head outside to scare him (or her ) off

Besides being tactically unsound. There is no state that sanctions the use of deadly force to protect property when the lives of innocents aren't involved.


#1--do you get close to them to try to catch them?

No


#2--is confrontation smart?

No


So, you go to confront them.

Congrats you just initiated the start of the violence. The perp (or his kin) now have a legitimate claim to all your worldly goods (car/home/bank account) after the civil trial - which they WILL win.



You yell "STOP!" with your rifle/handgun pointed at them and they come after you with a knife/gun/anything very harmful. Are you justified in shooting them?

No because:
1) You had the ability to avoid the situation.
2) You had the ability to retreat from the situation
3) You escalated the situation.

And it aint just MD - most states would at a minium put you on trial if there was a shooting (even if you win you are out tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.


What if you're not on your property anymore, you're in the street. This is the last thing you were hoping for, you were just trying to detain them while law enforcement arrived (you did call them, right?).

That makes it even worse. Now they can tack on the fact you were carring a weapon w/o a permit on public lands...

FYI True story that happend about 10 years ago in Baltimore. It happened to a neighbor of a friend (and former coworker) of mine.

This neighbor wakes up at night hearing a noise outside his window. He looks out and sees two punks beating up a neighborhood kid on break from College. He grabs his handgun - unloads it (he just want's to 'scare them away'), and has his wife call 911. He goes out and stays on his stoop (thus never leaving his property) and manages to get the beatings to stop and hold the perps there till the Baltimore police arrive. When they arrive they arrest the homeowner for 'brandishing' and carrying a firearm in public. Even when an hour minutes later the kid's parents were down at the police station telling the police how this 'good samaritan' litterally saved their kid's life the police held him over the weekend till the magistrate got in on Monday. The punks were on the street before the 'good guy', and their lawyer was paid for by you and me.

Now do you really think they will allow you to do the same with a LOADED weapon over a car?


Forrest,
Excellent assessment of the situation. All of your statements are logical and true to the extent of only stopping the threat to your life, except one. If you see a life threatening event in progress I took a class presented by Lethal Force Institute Training (LFI1) taught by Massad Aaoyb, a professional police man for several years, author and regular contributer to several gun magazine articles and columns indicates that you have the moral and legal right to stop the threat to life you personally see happening to someone else and at the time it occurs to only stop the threat.
If you take his class he will tell you he will personally be a subject matter expert in your defense for FREE (minus travel and lodging expenses). High success rate.
This is an EXCELLENT course and I recommend any one taking it. You apply and are screened and IF accepted take the week long course. It includes both class room instruction and live fire (something like 500 rounds in a week or less, can't recall just now).
Hope this helps. PM me for info. We had a lawyer attend my class-interesting.
Loubie
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:39:21 AM EDT
Actually TX makes it legal to use force to prevent theft at night. I guess this goes back to cattle rustling days. I don't think it's a good idea but that's the way it is.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 4:50:41 AM EDT
There was an incident like this about a year and a half ago in Laurel. Seems this guy heard his car alarm going off and he went outside with a shotgun to scare off the the thieves. One of the perps pulled a gun and the homeowner shot and killed one of the perps and the other got away. The articled stated that the police did find a handgun laying in the parking lot in close proximity to the body and that no charges were filed at that time, but a polygraph examination was pending. I never did see anything of a final outcome though.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 6:21:09 AM EDT
I was told quite specifically by a judge (don't ask) that your very first duty is to retreat. Period.

IF you are unable to retreat, you may meet force with similar force to prevent further danger/harm to your person. Stay within those limits, and it's "self-defense", otherwise, you are in the wrong (per MD).

Even if someone beat hell out of you and began to walk away, if they're done and no longer a threat, you cannot continue the fight. You can only use force to prevent harm to yourself, not pay someone back or punish them for it.

Even if you see someone else in trouble, they have the right to their own self-defense, but if you interfere, "legally speaking" you are in the wrong. "Morally speaking" is another subject . . . . I realize it's a sick situation. . . but that's MD law.

Even if you see someone taking your most valuable posessions, if you begin a confrontation, you are on extremely thin ice and bear in mind that the shooting situation referenced in the above posts is not yet resolved . . .

While there is a certain amount of judicial disgression allowed, and what Iwas told above cannot possibly cover all situations, I would strongly suggest talking to an attorney before stepping outside the boundaries.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:46:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By eshell:
I was told quite specifically by a judge (don't ask) that your very first duty is to retreat. Period.

IF you are unable to retreat, you may meet force with similar force to prevent further danger/harm to your person. Stay within those limits, and it's "self-defense", otherwise, you are in the wrong (per MD).

Even if someone beat hell out of you and began to walk away, if they're done and no longer a threat, you cannot continue the fight. You can only use force to prevent harm to yourself, not pay someone back or punish them for it.

Even if you see someone else in trouble, they have the right to their own self-defense, but if you interfere, "legally speaking" you are in the wrong. "Morally speaking" is another subject . . . . I realize it's a sick situation. . . but that's MD law.

Even if you see someone taking your most valuable posessions, if you begin a confrontation, you are on extremely thin ice and bear in mind that the shooting situation referenced in the above posts is not yet resolved . . .



That is how I was taught at FIRE.


While there is a certain amount of judicial disgression allowed, and what Iwas told above cannot possibly cover all situations, I would strongly suggest talking to an attorney before stepping outside the boundaries.


Again, more gread advice.
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