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Old June 1, 2010, 01:40 PM   #1
dnr1128
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Defense of others, legality thereof

In about a month I'll receive my permit and start carrying here in MS. In the copy of the laws regulating the concealed carrying of firearms I haven't seen anything regarding using it in defense of some other than the permit holder.

For instance, if I'm walking to my vehicle in a parking garage and happen upon a mugging or assault, do I have the legal duty and/or authority (moral obligation notwithstanding) to use force up to and including lethal, in defense of the victim? Would that be protected under "good Samaritan" laws or would the use of a firearm take it into another realm.
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Old June 1, 2010, 01:52 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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I don't know the laws in your state, particularly, but I'd be very surprised if there was a law that did not allow for defense of others.

Every law pertaining to the use of force of which I am aware makes exceptions and qualifiers for defense of others.

Even in states where retreat is required there are exceptions which require "complete safety of self and others", or something of that nature.

You should be able to find the exact text of the laws by "googling" something like "law of physical force mississippi" or "mississippi penal code" and then search through the codes for "physical force".


"Good Samaritan" laws pertain to an instance of hurting the person that you are trying to help, so are not really applicable as to the legality of actually attempting that assistance.
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Old June 1, 2010, 02:00 PM   #3
RGR3/75
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it's sad when someone actually has to ask this...
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Old June 1, 2010, 02:10 PM   #4
dnr1128
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@peetzakilla Thanks for your post. Gives me somewhere to start looking at the laws.
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Old June 1, 2010, 02:16 PM   #5
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
it's sad when someone actually has to ask this...
If you read the OP's post, I think you'll see that he understands his moral obligation to render aid; he's just trying to find out what legal protections he can expect to have when doing so.
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Old June 1, 2010, 02:54 PM   #6
NavyLT
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The police have no legal responsibility to provide protection to others, CCW permit holders certainly do not.

Here is your applicable MS statute:

ยง 97-3-15. Homicide; justifiable homicide; use of defensive force; duty to retreat.

(1) The killing of a human being by the act, procurement or omission of another shall be justifiable in the following cases:

(a) When committed by public officers, or those acting by their aid and assistance, in obedience to any judgment of a competent court;

(b) When necessarily committed by public officers, or those acting by their command in their aid and assistance, in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or to the discharge of any other legal duty;

(c) When necessarily committed by public officers, or those acting by their command in their aid and assistance, in retaking any felon who has been rescued or has escaped;

(d) When necessarily committed by public officers, or those acting by their command in their aid and assistance, in arresting any felon fleeing from justice;

(e) When committed by any person in resisting any attempt unlawfully to kill such person or to commit any felony upon him, or upon or in any dwelling, in any occupied vehicle, in any place of business, in any place of employment or in the immediate premises thereof in which such person shall be;

(f) When committed in the lawful defense of one's own person or any other human being, where there shall be reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury, and there shall be imminent danger of such design being accomplished;

(g) When necessarily committed in attempting by lawful ways and means to apprehend any person for any felony committed;

(h) When necessarily committed in lawfully suppressing any riot or in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace.

(2) (a) As used in subsection (1)(c) and (d) of this section, the term "when necessarily committed" means that a public officer or a person acting by or at the officer's command, aid or assistance is authorized to use such force as necessary in securing and detaining the felon offender, overcoming the offender's resistance, preventing the offender's escape, recapturing the offender if the offender escapes or in protecting himself or others from bodily harm; but such officer or person shall not be authorized to resort to deadly or dangerous means when to do so would be unreasonable under the circumstances. The public officer or person acting by or at the officer's command may act upon a reasonable apprehension of the surrounding circumstances; however, such officer or person shall not use excessive force or force that is greater than reasonably necessary in securing and detaining the offender, overcoming the offender's resistance, preventing the offender's escape, recapturing the offender if the offender escapes or in protecting himself or others from bodily harm.

(b) As used in subsection (1)(c) and (d) of this section the term "felon" shall include an offender who has been convicted of a felony and shall also include an offender who is in custody, or whose custody is being sought, on a charge or for an offense which is punishable, upon conviction, by death or confinement in the Penitentiary.

(c) As used in subsections (1)(e) and (3) of this section, "dwelling" means a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof over it, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, including a tent, that is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, including any attached porch;

(3) A person who uses defensive force shall be presumed to have reasonably feared imminent death or great bodily harm, or the commission of a felony upon him or another or upon his dwelling, or against a vehicle which he was occupying, or against his business or place of employment or the immediate premises of such business or place of employment, if the person against whom the defensive force was used, was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, occupied vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if that person had unlawfully removed or was attempting to unlawfully remove another against the other person's will from that dwelling, occupied vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof and the person who used defensive force knew or had reason to believe that the forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred. This presumption shall not apply if the person against whom defensive force was used has a right to be in or is a lawful resident or owner of the dwelling, vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or is the lawful resident or owner of the dwelling, vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if the person who uses defensive force is engaged in unlawful activity or if the person is a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his official duties;

(4) A person who is not the initial aggressor and is not engaged in unlawful activity shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force under subsection (1) (e) or (f) of this section if the person is in a place where the person has a right to be, and no finder of fact shall be permitted to consider the person's failure to retreat as evidence that the person's use of force was unnecessary, excessive or unreasonable.

(5) (a) The presumptions contained in subsection (3) of this section shall apply in civil cases in which self-defense or defense of another is claimed as a defense.

(b) The court shall award reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant acted in accordance with subsection (1) (e) or (f) of this section. A defendant who has previously been adjudicated "not guilty" of any crime by reason of subsection (1) (e) or (f) of this section shall be immune from any civil action for damages arising from same conduct.
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Old June 1, 2010, 03:03 PM   #7
dnr1128
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@NavyLT (& all other vets)

Thank you for your service to our country!

So, while those of us who carry weapons for self-defense do not have the legal obligation to defend a third party, we cannot be held criminally liable if we use lethal force, provided that the circumstances justify it. I'm not a lawyer, but that is what I interpret the statute to mean.

Obviously, we have the moral obligation to intercede on behalf of another person. What I'm looking at is the legal side of the issue.
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Old June 1, 2010, 03:15 PM   #8
poptime
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Seems like if you speak up and the mugger turns on you then you would be defending yourself.
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Old June 1, 2010, 03:21 PM   #9
dnr1128
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Quote:
Seems like if you speak up and the mugger turns on you then you would be defending yourself.
More than likely, yes. As soon as he hears you, he'd probably point the gun at you, which then means that you are acting in self-defense.
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Old June 1, 2010, 04:25 PM   #10
DogoDon
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I'd recommend extreme caution using deadly force in defense of a third party in a situation where you don't know the "agressor" or the "victim." You may not know all the facts. For example, how do you know that the "agressor" isn't a plainclothes or off-duty LEO? Or how do you know that the "victim" didn't instigate the incident?

Of course, there may be situations where it's clear that the victim is in need of aid (e.g., a man mercilessly attacking a woman) and use of deadly force may be justified, but extreme caution and circumspection is needed.

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Old June 3, 2010, 02:08 PM   #11
44 AMP
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Many states have a section in law that allows for (protects from prosecution)the use of deadly force in defense of others, but it is not usually found in the laws covering CCW. IT will be somewhere in the laws covering murder/assault, etc.

Good Samaritan laws are legal protection for those who honestly try to help and unintentionally cause harm. It is generally applied to medical/emergency situations, such as car accidents. It may be applicable to a defense shooting in protection of othes, but I don't know this as certain. Contact a lawyer in your state for a valid opinion, please!

No ordinary citizen has a legal obligation to intervene with deadly force. Your personal moral/ethical obligation is diferent. The law protecting you from prosecuton should you use deadly force in defense of others does not require that you do so. Having a CCW does not deputize you. It does not make you an unoffical law enforcement agent. It does not require you to come to the aid of others. And, should you do so, you better have clear cut, obviously legally correct circumstances, and you actions better be the minimum necesary to protect life and safety. (see the thread of the "former hero" who is now in deep kimchi for chasing and shooting at some shoplifters)

If you are ever in such a situation, you will have to make decisions between hearbeats, and a wrong decision can put you in jail, or worse. So think clearly about it, beforehand. You cannot legally use deadly force to protect someone else's property (or your own, usually), only to protect their person from threat of or actual grevious harm. It is a gray area is some apects, but in others it is quite clear in law. Be sure of your ground, and act accordingly.
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Old June 3, 2010, 11:51 PM   #12
chexmix
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This should have been covered in your CPL class.
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Old June 4, 2010, 02:16 AM   #13
Frank Ettin
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In most States the person who comes to the defense of another steps into the shoes of the person to whose defense he came. That would mean that if the person you defended would have, under the circumstances, been justified in using lethal force to defend himself, you would be justified in using lethal force to defend him.

But here's the rub. Do you really know enough about what has happened to know if the person you plan to defend would have been legally justified in defending himself? For example, would you know enough about the situation to know that the person you're about to defend was not actually the original aggressor? What if the guy you're about to defend actually started the fight?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogoDon
...Of course, there may be situations where it's clear that the victim is in need of aid (e.g., a man mercilessly attacking a woman)...
And you still need to be careful. I seem to recall an incident about a year ago in which someone came upon a man who appeared to be attacking a woman. The knight-in-shining-armor shot the man. It turned out that the man was an undercover cop and the woman was a hooker who was violently resisting arrest. The k-in-s-a went to jail.
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Old June 4, 2010, 06:39 AM   #14
blume357
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fiddletown hit the nail on the head...

No, you do not have any 'legal' obligation to come to the defense of another... but you may have a 'moral' one.... as stated above.... regarding whether deadly force was justified depends on the situation... which you may not be fully aware of.
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