"Reasonable limits" on self defense

Sep 2017
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Massachusetts
#11
The lack of a duty to retreat from one's home does not make every use of deadly force per se reasonable.
The problem, though, is that it means that if a jury thinks a person was in physical danger and the only alternative to deadly force was to leave, then deadly force is excused. I'd rather have the rule be that if there was a clear way to avoid anyone getting hurt, the person should have chosen it, even if it was in his own home.
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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#12
The problem, though, is that it means that if a jury thinks a person was in physical danger and the only alternative to deadly force was to leave, then deadly force is excused.
A jury could conceivably think that, but the jury receives its instructions from the judge on those points. And I do not agree with requiring anyone to allow home invaders to take over the home for any length of time.
 
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Sep 2017
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Massachusetts
#13
A jury could conceivably think that, but the jury receives its instructions from the judge on those points. And I do not agree with requiring anyone to allow home invaders to take over the home for any length of time.
In the age of ubiquitous cell phones, the length of time would be very short -- basically, flee out the back of your house and call the police. A home invader knows that, so as a practical matter, the moment you flee, he's going to look to grab a few things and leave, too, before the police show up. So, we're talking about balancing a human life against a few possessions a thief might escape with. I put a lot of value on a human life, so I'd rather go that way. That said, I'd give the benefit of the doubt to the person accused of a wrongful killing, as is required under our system for criminal defendants. So, if you say you didn't think you (or your family) could get out safely, and so you killed the invader, then unless a jury is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you're lying, I'd want them to find in your favor.
 

Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
68,912
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Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
#14
In the age of ubiquitous cell phones, the length of time would be very short -- basically, flee out the back of your house and call the police.
Assuming, of course, you can get to your cell phone on your way out the door.
A home invader knows that, so as a practical matter, the moment you flee, he's going to look to grab a few things and leave, too, before the police show up. So, we're talking about balancing a human life against a few possessions a thief might escape with.
What you are saying here is that people should be allowed to get away with invading someone's home and forcing them out so they can steal things, since the probability of them being caught is practically zero.

A person has the right to protect his property and possessions, not just his person (or another person). While a homeowner might make an unreasonable escalation depending on the circumstances, failing to retreat from one's home should not be considered an escalation, much less an unreasonable one.
 
Sep 2017
3,654
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Massachusetts
#15
Assuming, of course, you can get to your cell phone on your way out the door.
Even if you can't, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you're going to be mere minutes from dozens of other phones.

What you are saying here is that people should be allowed to get away with invading someone's home and forcing them out so they can steal things, since the probability of them being caught is practically zero.
No. As you are well aware, I said nothing of the sort. I made no claim at all about the probability of them being caught. That's what YOU'RE saying.

Amway, although a fairly low percentage of burglaries are solved (13.6% resulted in an arrest in 2014), that's because the majority of burglars enter a home when nobody is there and never get seen (over 70%). What the chances of the person being brought to justice are when someone is there to call the police promptly and to provide a description of the perpetrator is unclear, but presumably would be much higher than the average. Regardless, sooner or later most burglars are going to get caught, because they make a habit of it, and even low percentages will add up. So, this isn't about allowing people to get away with it. It's about the question of whether a human life is worth more than whatever handful of goods a burglar would get away with in the scenario described. I'm on the side of human life over trinkets, so I'm not willing to stand up for an idea that summary execution is an appropriate way to defend things in your house. If you kill a burglar because you reasonably think it is needed to defend your person or that of someone else in the house, fine, but if you do it because you can't bear to think of losing your HDTV, that's not enough for me.
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
68,912
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#16
Even if you can't, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you're going to be mere minutes from dozens of other phones.
And if you do live in the middle of nowhere? Or it is the middle of the night? Suppose the invader is standing between you and the door?
No. As you are well aware, I said nothing of the sort. I made no claim at all about the probability of them being caught. That's what YOU'RE saying.
Yes, I am. However, it is also the logical conclusion of what you DID say, which was "so what" to the burglar getting away with stealing someone's property.
{S}ooner or later most burglars are going to get caught...
Not for every burglary, though, and so unless they are caught with the stolen property and the owners can all be identified they will end up getting away with something, just not everything.
[T]his isn't about allowing people to get away with it. It's about the question of whether a human life is worth more than whatever handful of goods a burglar would get away with in the scenario described.
These statements contradict each other. You would rather someone get away with burglary/robbery/theft than that this criminal get injured while the victim defends himself.
I'm on the side of human life over trinkets, so I'm not willing to stand up for an idea that summary execution is an appropriate way to defend things in your house.
Nor has anyone here (that I am aware of - certainly not I) suggested that a summary execution is the appropriate response. Self-defense, even killing in self-defense, is not even murder, much less an "execution."
 
Sep 2017
3,654
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Massachusetts
#17
And if you do live in the middle of nowhere? Or it is the middle of the night? Suppose the invader is standing between you and the door?
In front of a jury, you'd still be protected by the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Before you could be found guilty of any crime, a unanimous jury of your peers would need to decide, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you should have recognized you had an option to safely retreat, and instead you intentionally killed someone. You wouldn't even be indicted unless a prosecutor felt some level of confidence he could get a jury to that point. In most scenarios, that's not going to happen, since the jury's sympathies are not going to be with a home invader. They're going to want to reach a verdict of not guilty. But, in some small portion of scenarios, there will be enough facts in evidence that it will be clear you should have realized you could safely retreat, but instead you chose to execute someone. In those scenarios, I don't want an absolute rule that you're not required to retreat in your home to dictate the outcome. I want it to be treated the same way as it would if you were in any other location.

Yes, I am. However, it is also the logical conclusion of what you DID say, which was "so what" to the burglar getting away with stealing someone's property.
No, that would be a profoundly illogical conclusion to draw from what I said. My position merely points out that when it's a choice between a human life and whatever property a home invader may get away with, I favor the human life. That doesn't mean I don't care about the property.

If it helps, think of it in a context other than home defense -- for example, picture it's someone working at a McDonalds, who sees a customer reach over the counter, grab a wad of cash from the register, and then run towards the door. The fleeing thief looks fast enough that he'll surely get away if not stopped immediately, and the only way to stop him immediately is for the employee to pull a gun and shoot him..... and so that's what he does. Should that be legal? I'd say no. I'm guessing you'd say no, too. If I'm right, does that lead to the "logical conclusion" that you are saying "so what" when it comes to thieves stealing from registers? I don't think so. I'd admit you care about thieves who steal from McDonalds registers. You just don't think it justifies killing someone. That's the same view I have even in the setting of someone stealing from a person's home. I don't see the change of setting as so fundamentally changing the scenario that now the human life is less valuable than the property.

These statements contradict each other.
They do not. It's just a question of comparative value. If you were to ask me whether I support jail time for burglars, in order to deter burglary, my answer would be yes. Although that period of lost freedom for the burglar has value, I think there's more value in deterring burglary. In other words, there's sufficient value in not letting them get away with it to justify a loss of their freedom for some period of time. But human life has very great value to me -- even when it comes to the lives of those who have chosen to break a law. When I compare the value of the person's life to the value of deterring burglary, I come down on the side of the life having more value.... for the same reason as I wouldn't treat burglary as a capital crime for which execution is an appropriate deterrent.
You would rather someone get away with burglary/robbery/theft than that this criminal get injured while the victim defends himself.
No. We didn't discuss injury. We discussed death. Injury is different. Let's say it's an unarmed burglar and the homeowner has a chance to stop him from fleeing with stolen goods by tackling him, even though the likely impact of that is some moderate injury for the thief. I wouldn't treat that as a crime.... nor would I treat it as a crime if the homeowner did something that he reasonably would have expected only to result in moderate injury but which accidentally resulted in death (e.g., the tackled thief hits his head on the way down and dies of internal bleeding). But if a homeowner attacks a burglar in a way that a reasonable person would see as having a high probability of death, and the homeowner had an option of instead safely retreating, I see that as a crime.

Nor has anyone here (that I am aware of - certainly not I) suggested that a summary execution is the appropriate response.
Willfully killing a fellow human being, without a trial, for a crime, is summary execution in my book, even if you do it to protect your property.
 
Mar 2015
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Istanbul NOT Constantinople...
#19
Amway, although a fairly low percentage of burglaries are solved (13.6% resulted in an arrest in 2014), that's because the majority of burglars enter a home when nobody is there and never get seen (over 70%). What the chances of the person being brought to justice are when someone is there to call the police promptly and to provide a description of the perpetrator is unclear, but presumably would be much higher than the average. Regardless, sooner or later most burglars are going to get caught, because they make a habit of it, and even low percentages will add up. So, this isn't about allowing people to get away with it. It's about the question of whether a human life is worth more than whatever handful of goods a burglar would get away with in the scenario described. I'm on the side of human life over trinkets, so I'm not willing to stand up for an idea that summary execution is an appropriate way to defend things in your house. If you kill a burglar because you reasonably think it is needed to defend your person or that of someone else in the house, fine, but if you do it because you can't bear to think of losing your HDTV, that's not enough for me.
I think that if you are stupid enough to break into someones home to steal stuff, that you SHOULD be shot because you are too stupid to function within society.
 
Last edited:

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
40,714
26,971
Toronto
#20
In front of a jury, you'd still be protected by the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Before you could be found guilty of any crime, a unanimous jury of your peers would need to decide, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you should have recognized you had an option to safely retreat, and instead you intentionally killed someone. You wouldn't even be indicted unless a prosecutor felt some level of confidence he could get a jury to that point. In most scenarios, that's not going to happen, since the jury's sympathies are not going to be with a home invader. They're going to want to reach a verdict of not guilty. But, in some small portion of scenarios, there will be enough facts in evidence that it will be clear you should have realized you could safely retreat, but instead you chose to execute someone. In those scenarios, I don't want an absolute rule that you're not required to retreat in your home to dictate the outcome. I want it to be treated the same way as it would if you were in any other location.



No, that would be a profoundly illogical conclusion to draw from what I said. My position merely points out that when it's a choice between a human life and whatever property a home invader may get away with, I favor the human life. That doesn't mean I don't care about the property.

If it helps, think of it in a context other than home defense -- for example, picture it's someone working at a McDonalds, who sees a customer reach over the counter, grab a wad of cash from the register, and then run towards the door. The fleeing thief looks fast enough that he'll surely get away if not stopped immediately, and the only way to stop him immediately is for the employee to pull a gun and shoot him..... and so that's what he does. Should that be legal? I'd say no. I'm guessing you'd say no, too. If I'm right, does that lead to the "logical conclusion" that you are saying "so what" when it comes to thieves stealing from registers? I don't think so. I'd admit you care about thieves who steal from McDonalds registers. You just don't think it justifies killing someone. That's the same view I have even in the setting of someone stealing from a person's home. I don't see the change of setting as so fundamentally changing the scenario that now the human life is less valuable than the property.

They do not. It's just a question of comparative value. If you were to ask me whether I support jail time for burglars, in order to deter burglary, my answer would be yes. Although that period of lost freedom for the burglar has value, I think there's more value in deterring burglary. In other words, there's sufficient value in not letting them get away with it to justify a loss of their freedom for some period of time. But human life has very great value to me -- even when it comes to the lives of those who have chosen to break a law. When I compare the value of the person's life to the value of deterring burglary, I come down on the side of the life having more value.... for the same reason as I wouldn't treat burglary as a capital crime for which execution is an appropriate deterrent.

No. We didn't discuss injury. We discussed death. Injury is different. Let's say it's an unarmed burglar and the homeowner has a chance to stop him from fleeing with stolen goods by tackling him, even though the likely impact of that is some moderate injury for the thief. I wouldn't treat that as a crime.... nor would I treat it as a crime if the homeowner did something that he reasonably would have expected only to result in moderate injury but which accidentally resulted in death (e.g., the tackled thief hits his head on the way down and dies of internal bleeding). But if a homeowner attacks a burglar in a way that a reasonable person would see as having a high probability of death, and the homeowner had an option of instead safely retreating, I see that as a crime.

Willfully killing a fellow human being, without a trial, for a crime, is summary execution in my book, even if you do it to protect your property.
Nobody has a right to steal from other people. I've done it myself, I admit, I shoplifted and such in my youth back in Moscow, and even helped other, older guys steal a car once, stood lookout (among other bad shit I was up to back then...)

Not proud of any of it today. You can't take what doesn't belong to you without permission, period.

And it's even worse if you break into someone's home, scare a family in there. As far as I a concerned, a man should do whatever he needs to, to protect his home and his family...

Your example with the pocket knife is extreme. I mean, in your example, it's a female, but come on, vast majority of burglaries and b &e-s are done by males. And they'd likely carry more than a pocket knife too...
 
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