The legal consequences of your actions are important to know BEFORE you find yourself under attack, in a possible kill or be killed scenario.
When it comes to having to defend yourself, as Damian Ross stated when we talked about this recently on the Warrior Life podcast, ‘there are no legal or illegal self-defense techniques.’
It’s more complicated than that so I put together some quality resources for you on using lethal force.
“Self-defense law requires the response to match the level of the threat in question. In other words, a person can only employ as much force as required to remove the threat. If the threat involves deadly force, the person defending themselves can use deadly force to counteract the threat.”
Source: (This is from information compiled by FindLaw.com’s legal writers and editors.)
Some of the questions FindLaw.com dive into include:
Was the fear of harm reasonable?
This idea of “reasonable”, also known as the “reasonable man” doctrine is something I’ve covered before, including in my Quick Kill Tactics guide:
“When dealing with law enforcement after the fact, the key phrase is, “I feared for my life.” If, by the “reasonable man” standard, a rational person in a similar situation would likewise be afraid for his or her life, you may, in fact, be justified in using a deadly technique or a deadly weapon.
Especially when your attacker is much larger and stronger, or if your attackers outnumber you, and sometimes when you are protecting more vulnerable family members and other loved ones, you may be able to use a weapon or a method that will result in the death of the person trying to harm you.”
Source: Quick Kill Tactics guide
Here’s another source explaining the importance of ‘reasonable’ with regard to a legal response to danger.
“For you to use force, the danger must be mortal and imminent. It must appear that the circumstances would warrant legitimate fears of a reasonable person and that you acted under the influence of those fears, not in a spirit of vengeance or criminal assault.
No one is expected to wait until they have absolute and incontrovertible knowledge that a threat is real. However, there must be an overt act coupled with that threat.
It doesn’t matter if your attacker’s “weapon” later proves to be a toy or non-functional or unloaded. So long as, under the circumstances, you had good reason to believe (reasonable belief) that the weapon was real and functional and that he intended to use it to harm you then your defensive actions will likely be considered reasonable and appropriate.
Remember, you will be judged only with regard to what you knew and reasonably believed to be true at the time. You will not be judged based upon facts and circumstances of which you had no cognizance.
Source: Damian Ross and his company at My Self Defense Training
Damian recently answered the following question:
“When is it OK for me to defend myself without getting in any legal trouble?”
And the answer is “a lot sooner than you probably think.” As long as your attacker has to demonstrate ability, opportunity and intent you are justified in defending yourself with reasonable force.
I had Damian Ross on the Warrior Life Podcast recently, where we also discussed the legal and moral implications with regard to lethal self-defense techniques.
I hope this information helps give you a clearer picture around the idea of legal or illegal ‘lethal’ self-defense techniques.