Monday, June 30, 2014

Never Resist a Criminal? Bad Advice

Greg Ellifritz notes that while many police agencies advise that victims should not resist a criminal attack, the statistics do not back it up. Interestingly, he observes that most criminals are not armed when they commit a crime (and, thus, you shouldn't assume they are armed unless you actually see a weapon). More amazingly, even if they have a "firearm," odds are that the firearm is either a fake (a toy or a BB gun) or inoperable. However, the rape statistics are probably the most convincing: among other statistics, Ellifritz reports that rape victims that plead with their attacker are raped 96% of the time, but victims that resisted with a knife or gun were only raped 1% of the time. Anyway, read the whole thing--it is worth your time.

There is a flip side to this, however. If a criminal's are generally unarmed, it suggests that you will likely not be justified in shooting someone merely because they are committing a criminal act. Obviously, I can't give you specific advice on the laws of your jurisdiction. But I can't think of any place that won't apply a reasonable force standard. For lethal force, you will have to be able to demonstrate that you reasonably believed you were at risk of imminent (i.e., going to happen right then and there) serious bodily harm or death (most jurisdictions allow you to protect another person, but not all!). Each jurisdiction will have its own formulation of this standard, but the important point is that it is an objective standard, not a subjective standard. That is, the question is not whether YOU felt threatened, but whether a jury would believe you acted as would a mythical "reasonable person."

However, the lack of armament is not permission to let your guard down. An unarmed, healthy young male (the typical perpetrator), or a few of them, can easily pummel you causing serious injury or death.

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