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Old May 15, 2008, 07:02 PM   #1
LanceOregon
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Text of Wisconsin Statutes Regarding Legal Self-Defense

I know that the thread about the Huggett arrest in Wisconsin is closed, but I feel that it is important to put everything in the proper context of what Wisconsin's own state laws say about what constitutes legal self-defense.

People need to realize that laws regarding self-defense can vary quite a bit from state to state. Actions that would thus be perfectly legal in one state, may well not be legal if done in another.

That is why it is very critical that we all research and know our own state laws so very well. For it is these statutes that prosecutors will be looking at if any of us is ever involved in an act of self-defense.

I myself was rather skeptical of why Huggett was being prosecuted. But if you actually look at the text of the Wisconsin statutes about self-defense, it becomes very clear why he was arrested and charged. Illegal provocation basically negates a person's right to use lethal force in self-defense in Wisconsin, unless the person first exhausts all other options available to him. Under the law Huggett would of had to have retreated and tried to disengage from the confrontation, before he could regain the right to use lethal force. And he obviously did not retreat, since Peach was shot at the door, and stumbled outside before he died. Wisconsin defines illegal provocation to not just include criminal acts, but even merely actions that could result in a civil lawsuit.

So I think that the lesson that we can all take away from this case is not to make any assumptions regarding what is and is not legal. Take the time to instead find out what your own state statutes specifically say about what constitutes legal self-defense.


Here is the text of what the Wisconsin statutes say:

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939.48 Self-defense and defense of others.

939.48(1)

(1) A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person. The actor may intentionally use only such force or threat thereof as the actor reasonably believes is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. The actor may not intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.


939.48(2)

(2) Provocation affects the privilege of self-defense as follows:

939.48(2)(a)

(a) A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person's assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.

939.48(2)(b)

(b) The privilege lost by provocation may be regained if the actor in good faith withdraws from the fight and gives adequate notice thereof to his or her assailant.

939.48(2)(c)

(c) A person who provokes an attack, whether by lawful or unlawful conduct, with intent to use such an attack as an excuse to cause death or great bodily harm to his or her assailant is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense.

939.48(3)

(3) The privilege of self-defense extends not only to the intentional infliction of harm upon a real or apparent wrongdoer, but also to the unintended infliction of harm upon a 3rd person, except that if the unintended infliction of harm amounts to the crime of first-degree or 2nd-degree reckless homicide, homicide by negligent handling of dangerous weapon, explosives or fire, first-degree or 2nd-degree reckless injury or injury by negligent handling of dangerous weapon, explosives or fire, the actor is liable for whichever one of those crimes is committed.

939.48(4)

(4) A person is privileged to defend a 3rd person from real or apparent unlawful interference by another under the same conditions and by the same means as those under and by which the person is privileged to defend himself or herself from real or apparent unlawful interference, provided that the person reasonably believes that the facts are such that the 3rd person would be privileged to act in self-defense and that the person's intervention is necessary for the protection of the 3rd person.

939.48(5)

(5) A person is privileged to use force against another if the person reasonably believes that to use such force is necessary to prevent such person from committing suicide, but this privilege does not extend to the intentional use of force intended or likely to cause death.

939.48(6)

(6) In this section "unlawful" means either tortious or expressly prohibited by criminal law or both.


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Last edited by LanceOregon; May 15, 2008 at 07:32 PM. Reason: typo
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Old May 15, 2008, 07:43 PM   #2
brickeyee
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You can read all the statute law you want, without a review of the case law you only have half (at best) of the information you need.
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Old May 15, 2008, 09:29 PM   #3
LanceOregon
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Quote:
You can read all the statute law you want, without a review of the case law you only have half (at best) of the information you need.
Is that typically an easy thing to do at a law library?? Or would it take a lot of work? I've never done any legal research myself. So I have no idea what would be involved in researching case law.

I have read the Oregon Statutes regarding self-defense, but I have no knowledge of what the case law might be like here.

For example, regarding the issue of provocation, Oregon law says the following:


161.215 Limitations on use of physical force in defense of a person. Notwithstanding ORS 161.209, a person is not justified in using physical force upon another person if:

(1) With intent to cause physical injury or death to another person, the person provokes the use of unlawful physical force by that person; or


So under Oregon law, the state has to show that there was an intent during the provocation to cause physical injury or death. Anyway, to this layperson, that seems like a far higher bar to hurdle, than what the Wisconsin statutes say.





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