Don’t Get Prosecuted for using Self-Defense: Protecting Yourself After Its Over
Self defense is a scary thing. Thankfully, using physical force against another human being is something most people will never know. Some people will either put themselves in the position of having to use physical force against another person, or be thrust into the position of defending themselves against their choice. Still another group of people will, either through hesitation or conscious choice, do nothing and become victims. All of these groups can face an uphill battle if they handle the aftermath of their choices poorly.
First, we will focus on those who use force in self-defense, force against another person to protect themselves. These people can easily be seen as the perpetrators of a crime. Even if their acts are lawful. Any statements made to police in the heat of the immediate aftermath is likely to be a problem for you later. Small inconsistencies, incorrect memories, emotion, and unnecessary information cloud your statement to police and make defending you more difficult later. A better idea is this: don’t make a statement to police until you consult with a self-defense lawyer. If you can, get a card from a good self-defense lawyer and keep it handy to show the police. Police officers routinely wait to make statements of their own use of force until they have calmed down and thought about what happened. You do the same thing.
When calling the police or 911, they will be recording the call. Tell them that you need them respond because “there has been a shooting and it’s all over" or “someone tried to break into my house" – only report the bare facts as to why the police need to respond. Do not answer any questions as to what you did; not to the 911 operator over the phone before you’ve spoken to your lawyer. To repeat that: Don’t tell the 911 operator anything you did, only what the situation is about.
Next, do not alter the scene at all. Do not move things, clean things, remove things, etc. Anything you do to alter the scene of events can be viewed as tampering with evidence. If you decline to make a statement, police might want to look closer at the scene to see if you are being deceptive in any way. Don’t be deceptive in any way! Just remain silent.
Lastly, have a relationship with a lawyer who can respond to the scene and deal with the situation for you. Have you ever made a statement to the press? Handled police interrogators? Had crime scene investigators invading your home? Most people have not experienced any of these things.
A good criminal defense attorney specializing in self-defense will want to come out at 3am to manage your situation from the beginning. Call 911 to get the police on their way, then your attorney to get him/her there, too.