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Old August 30, 2010, 11:28 PM   #1
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Medical issue = lower threshold of armed response?

Here's the situation: due to a medical problem, I'm required to take a blood thinner. The consequences are an increased likelihood of bleeding, and considerable decrease in my ability to clot.

This means, for example, if I get in a car accident, or, say, punched in the head, I stand a good chance of not surviving due to internal bleeding.

That being so, it seems to me that the threshold of armed response to a threatened attack ought to be lower for me, as the risk of death fron a blow is considerably greater than would be the case for someone with a normal clotting system.

In addition, being an old guy and out of shape, running away doesn't work so well as it might for a twentysomething.

So the question is, will the law cut me some slack, or am I looking at a prison term if I present an armed response to a threat not usually considered life-threatening?
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Old August 30, 2010, 11:45 PM   #2
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Civil law has a concept called the "eggshell skull" doctrine, which basically says an attacker takes the victim as he finds him -- that when someone commits a negligent act that leads to another person getting injured, then that person is culpable for the entire extent of the injury even if the victim had some pre existing condition that turned what should have been a minor problem into a major one.

In criminal law, a similar doctrine applies in self defense. The attacker doesn't have to know he is putting you in legitimate & reasonable fear for your life. You simply have to know it and be able to articulate your reasonable belief that (for example) someone about to punch you in the head was actually about to use deadly force against you whether he fully realized it or not.

See for a really good overview.

(Disclaimer: IANAL, simply an autodidact with a wickedly obsessive reading habit.)

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My personal website: Cornered Cat
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Old August 31, 2010, 12:15 AM   #3
Frank Ettin
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pax has, I think, stated it very well.

It's still basically the same analytical process for you. You will generally need to show a reasonable and prudent person, in like circumstances and knowing what you know, would conclude that lethal force is necessary to prevent otherwise unavoidable, imminent death or grave bodily injury to an innocent. To demonstrate that there was indeed a real danger from the assailant, one must show that the assailant had (1) the Ability, i. e., the power to deliver force sufficient to cause death or grave bodily harm; (2) the Opportunity, i. e., the assailant was capable of immediately deploying such force; and (3) put an innocent in Jeopardy, i. e., the assailant was acting in such a manner that a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that he has the intent to kill or cripple. You will need to be able to articulate why in the exact situation as it unfolded you concluded that lethal force was necessary based on the foregoing.

But of course, one of the things you know is that you have a medical condition that puts you at greater risk of serious injury or death from an injury that might not be as grave for someone else. Essentially, you can take into account that it will be easier for an attacker to cause you a lethal or grievous injury.
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Old August 31, 2010, 12:56 AM   #4
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Similar viewpoints are taken under circumstances of the victim being more prone to bodily harm be they age, size, health, or sheer numbers. The greater advantage the attacker has over the victim, the lower the bar is for the use of deadly force.

EX 1: I'm 21, 180 pounds, walking with 8 of my friends of similar size and build. If one 5'5'' 120 pound person comes up to me and punches me in the face, I would not be allowed to shoot him.

EX 2: I'm 21, 180 pounds, walking alone and get surprised by someone who is 5'5'' 120 pounds and he attacks me. Technically, because I have no medical problems, I would have to be enduring some terrible bodily harm and still have the wherewithal to draw and put shots on target in order for this to be a good shoot.

EX 3: I'm 81, 160 pounds and taking all sorts of blood thinners. I'm by myself and eight 21 year old men start to encircle me and threaten me. I draw and make noise to try and get people to see/call 911, and if the attackers don't stop I would not get in trouble for shooting anyone who does not retreat.

EX 4: I'm 81, 160 pounds and have all the problems of being old man. Even if there is just one young kid trying to come at me you would probably still never see a jail cell.

One of of these forums the other day there was someone taking blood thinners who said he would draw on anyone who tried to punch him period for the reason you mentioned.

Sorry for the rant. I'm putting off important tasks.
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Old August 31, 2010, 07:27 AM   #5
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pax has, I think, stated it very well.
Yeah, I've noticed she does that. Obviously, we need more laws. These "autodidacts," they call themselves, have hidden agendas. It smells a lot like racism to me.

Oh. Wait. Sorry. My first mug of tea is still half-full. I can't explain why I sometimes wake up thinking I'm a leftist extremist. I hope I'll get over this.
No tyrant should ever be allowed to die of natural causes.
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Old August 31, 2010, 07:40 AM   #6
roy reali
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You can't say you won't get into trouble. You should change won't to probably not. You never know the mind set of your local DA.
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Old August 31, 2010, 08:12 AM   #7
Glenn Dee
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Most often criminal laws are based on "what a reasonable man would do" in your situation. This allows the law to be somewhat flexible given extenuating circumstances. Anyway.... thats the way it's supposed to work. But P/C and political agenda's can easily corrupt that standard.
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Old August 31, 2010, 10:34 AM   #8
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by roy reali
You can't say you won't get into trouble. You should change won't to probably not. You never know the mind set of your local DA.
Actually, I'd say that you'll usually get into trouble. Using lethal force against another human is not taken lightly by society or the authorities, nor should it be.

So if you use lethal force in self defense, your conduct will be subject to close scrutiny. There's a high probability that you will be detained by the police and at some point subject to one or more interrogations. There's a high probability that you will want a lawyer. There's a good chance you'll be arrested. You may spend a few hours to a few days in jail.

The point is that if you understand the rules and act appropriately, you'll have a better chance of getting out of trouble.
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