This is a question that has been asked for hundreds if not thousands of years. When does a situation go from a verbal altercation to an act of physical violence? Is it cut and dried and black and white? I personally feel like it is very situational and gray when it comes to violence, whether it is with a weapon or hand to hand.
Someone breaking into your home, kidnapping your children, aggravated robbery and attempted murder are just a few that will always come up when it comes to the discussion of lawful uses of force. However, things happen in a moment and in the blink of an eye a jury of your peers may see your justified use of force as manslaughter or even murder.
In the world we live in of constant cameras and smart phones, we have video evidence that can convict or acquit you of a crime or act of violence. I personally feel like due to the overwhelming negative media presence that more and more people are hesitant to use force.
People have a real fear of being sued or losing their job more so than losing their life in any situation that involves a physical use of force.
If someone is screaming at you at the gas pumps and begins to walk your way shouting obscenities, should you retreat, stand your ground or draw your weapon?
The camera may show a simple overhead view and the guy at the next gas pump may see it differently than you do.
So, when is physical action justified or legal?
If you hesitate in the above situation, you may be a statistic on the 6 o’clock news. Or, if you act at the wrong time you may be holding a registration number while taking a mug shot at the county jail.
Shootings like the Martin/Zimmerman situation receive national attention and people will argue points for both sides in uses of force like these.
The timing of a use of force should be based on the aggressor’s actions and be justified in a court of law. When it is time to go hands on, use only the force necessary to control the situation. Most people agree on having to get physically confrontational with an aggressor, however it is when they go overboard with excessive use of force that gets them into trouble.
What is justified and what is excessive?
I really don’t have that exact answer, and I don’t think anyone does until you see the situation or are caught in one. We have all heard “I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6”. It does have a nice ring to it doesn’t it?
This is a subject that is very controversial and will continue to be. Anytime a situation calls for violence of action, it won’t be pretty and things can get very, very ugly in a hurry. I will go over some Texas Penal codes in a future blog to give us a clear understanding of what the law states about use of force.
In the meantime, stay prepared and always have a plan.