Proposal for change in self defense laws - Politics | PoFo

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This post has to do with laws regarding the legal use of force in self defense in the USA.

Here in the USA by law if you're attacked you're allowed to defend yourself. However there are certain conditions that must be met in order for your actions to be considered "self defense" by law. For one thing obviously you have to be attacked. Also, you can't continue to beat on an assailant after you've stopped them. Lets say an attacker is coming at you, you knock them out with a punch and as they're laying there unconscious you proceed to kick and stomp them. At that point it is not self defense as you've stopped them and they're no longer a threat. Both those things I mentioned above I think are good guidelines. However what I do disagree with is having to respond with force on force. Having to use a level of force that is in proportion to the level of force your attacker is using. This is just an idea but my proposal is to get rid of that standard. Another words, to make it so that there is no limit to the level of force you can use against an attacker as long as you stop when the attacker stops. This is just a thought and if anybody disagrees they are welcome to state their opinion and as to why.
I think this might be already considered by the courts.

If a 50 kg girl is being beaten and raped by someone much larger, and should she suddenly have available to her deadly force (gun, knife, pointy scissors), and if she uses them, resulting in maiming or killing the assailant, would the courts find against her?
This is a famous and well publicised by the media. Those shot had broken into Martins farmhouse while he was asleep upstairs so therefor it was aggravating burglary.
Those shot were gypsies and the campaign to release Martin was anti gypsy, as if gypsies deserved being shot. But Martin was still found guilty of murder.

In 1999 Tony Martin, a bachelor, was living alone at his farmhouse in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, nicknamed Bleak House, which he inherited at age 35 from his uncle. He claimed to have been burgled a total of ten times, losing £6,000 worth of furniture. Police sources say they are not sure that all the incidents took place. Martin also complained about police inaction over the burglaries and claimed that multiple items and furniture were stolen such as dinnerware and a grandfather clock. Martin had equipped himself with an illegally held pump-action Winchester Model 1300 12 bore shotgun which he claimed to have found. Martin had his shotgun certificate revoked in 1994 after he found a man scrumping for apples in his orchard and shot a hole in the back of his vehicle. Pump-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than two are illegal to hold on a shotgun certificate however, and can only be held with a firearms certificate.

On the night of 20 August 1999, two burglars – Brendon Fearon, 29, and Fred Barras, 16 – broke into Martin's house. Shooting downwards in the dark, with his shotgun, loaded with birdshot, Martin shot three times towards the intruders (once when they were in the stairwell and twice more when they were trying to flee through the window of an adjacent ground floor room). Barras was hit in the back and both sustained gunshot injuries to their legs. Both escaped through the window but Barras died at the scene. Martin claimed that he opened fire after being woken when the intruders smashed a window. The prosecution accused him of lying in wait for the burglars and opening fire without warning from close range, in retribution for previous break-ins at his home.

On 10 January 2000, Fearon and Darren Bark, 33 (who had acted as the getaway driver), both from Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, admitted to conspiring to burgle Martin's farmhouse. Fearon was sentenced to 36 months in prison, and Bark to 30 months (with an additional 12 months arising from previous offences). Fearon was released on 10 August 2001. Fred Barras, the dead youth, had accumulated a lengthy criminal record, having been arrested 29 times by the time of his death at the age of 16, and had been sentenced to two months in a young offenders' institution for assaulting a policeman, theft and being drunk and disorderly. On the night he was killed, the teenager had just been released on bail after being accused of stealing garden furniture. Barras' grandmother, Mary Dolan, stated: "It's not fair that the farmer has got all the money and he is the one that took Fred away."

On 23 August 1999, Martin was charged with the murder of Barras, the attempted murder of Fearon, "wounding with intent to cause injury" to Fearon, and "possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life". Martin did not hold a valid shotgun certificate (licence), let alone the more restrictive Firearms Certificate he would have needed to possess the Winchester pump-action shotgun that held a maximum of five rounds.

English law permits one person to kill another in self-defence only if the person defending him or herself uses no more than "reasonable force"; it is the responsibility of the jury to determine whether or not an unreasonable amount of force was used. The jury at the trial were told that they had the option of returning a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder, if they thought that Martin "did not intend to kill or cause serious bodily harm". However, the jurors found Martin guilty of murder by a 10 to 2 majority.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommended minimum term to serve of 9 years, reduced to 8 years by the Lord Chief Justice.

An appeal was considered in October 2001 by three senior judges headed by Lord Woolf, LCJ. Submissions by the defence that Martin had fired in his own defence were rejected by the appeal court. On this occasion the defence also submitted evidence that Martin was diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder exacerbated by depression and that his paranoia was specifically directed at anyone intruding into his home; he was also diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. This submission was accepted by the Court of Appeal and, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, Martin's murder conviction was replaced by manslaughter carrying a five-year sentence, and his ten-year sentence for wounding Fearon was reduced to three years. These sentences were to run concurrently.

Stormsmith wrote:I think this might be already considered by the courts.

If a 50 kg girl is being beaten and raped by someone much larger, and should she suddenly have available to her deadly force (gun, knife, pointy scissors), and if she uses them, resulting in maiming or killing the assailant, would the courts find against her?

From what I know she would not be prosecuted. Deadly force is allowed in self defense if the defender is in reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm. Rape is grave bodily harm. Beating might also be seen as grave bodily harm. If he is trying to rape her and she shoots and kills him than she should get off on grounds of self defense.
The problem with this discussion is that there's so many different situations, it can even become a bit vague to talk about 'justified' force or even 'proportional': apologies for overlapping terms a bit but we need to see what the grey areas are. On one hand, it may not always be necessary to stop an attacker by knocking them out, causing minor brain damage in doing so. On the other hand, we don't always know what's 'proportional', especially not when we're in a life or death situation. It might seem like someone's out, or that they can't or won't do anything further but it's not always 100% clear which is why there's even a debate.

On one end of the spectrum, we have the blood-thirsty on the right who just want to violently smash up anyone when they can justify doing so (regardless if they need to) ... on the other end, we have naive leftists who don't see how their beliefs can make people into victims. This makes the whole thing one huge mess. For now, and until people's attitudes change, we need to judge these things on a case by case basis only. In self-defence cases, perhaps call on rational and experienced martial arts and self-defence instructors (no cage fighter knuckleheads but also, no dogmatic self-proclaimed martial arts 'guru' nonsense). These experts should view footage, listen to testimonies and intelligently advise the jury (as called upon by defence or prosecution) what could be considered 'justified' and/or 'proportional' force under those circumstances.
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