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Old May 29, 2010, 06:23 AM   #1
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Deadly force / equal force, knife vs. gun law.

I'm looking for some insight here.
In conversation at lunch the other day a coworker said another coworker previously did jail time for the following:
During a home invasion he shot a knife weilding intruder. He was supposedly convicted because he "escallated" the matter from knife to gun.
That led to a mention of "equal force" where my wife said "you can't shoot someone who has a knife, even I know that".
I dissagree with them that both are lethal weapons, however, the other coworked did past prison time for it.
I know I need more details of the events. Were drugs/girlfriend/whatever involved ? Was it legal for him to have a gun .... etc.
I do know it was in Fl.
I need to find out if the castle doctrine was in place at the time. If it was, what bearing would it have on this event?
Please, please, while it may be better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6 that's not the response I'm looking for.
I hope someone can point me to: Supreme court ruling "Mike Smith vs. State of __"
Thank You
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Old May 29, 2010, 07:01 AM   #2
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There's a lot more to the co-worker's story than what you've told us (or most likely have heard yourself.) There's no jurisdiction in the country where shooting someone that's invaded your home and is attacking you with a knife will earn you a prison sentence.

And you're right - a knife is a "deadly weapon" anywhere as well. You're not escalating or using disproportionate force when you respond with a gun.

I'll see if I can find a court ruling, but the problem is that the issue probably hasn't been heard by the Supreme Court because there's really no question or debate in the matter.
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Old May 29, 2010, 08:04 AM   #3
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Cartainly, there is a lot left out of the story. But one level of escalation that will get you in trouble is being the one who starts the trouble. This is from the Texas law on home defense.

(c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.
Note the sentence on not provoking the attacker. It is entirely possible that a person could come in uninvited and then you escalate the situation to provoke a fight. In most home invasions this will not be an issue, but it could be. Also if the the knife holder deescalates and tries to leave then you shoot him, the fear of death is gone and you can be in trouble.
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Old May 29, 2010, 08:05 AM   #4
Bartholomew Roberts
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Yes, somebody is leaving out important details. Florida has some of the better self-defense laws in the nation. There is no way that someone shot a knife-wielding intruder in the midst of a home invasion and went to jail for it. There are missing facts to that story.

Here is the current Florida definition of "deadly force":

776.06 Deadly force.--

(1) The term "deadly force" means force that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm and includes, but is not limited to:
A good case discussing the distinction of whether a knife is deadly force under Florida law is Waldo vs. State of Florida, 728 So. 2d 280 (1999)

Note the sentence on not provoking the attacker. It is entirely possible that a person could come in uninvited and then you escalate the situation to provoke a fight.
You have misunderstood Texas law. A home invader would fall under other sections of 9.32 and isn't subject to the section you quoted, which deals with the duty to retreat while out in public.
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Old May 29, 2010, 02:14 PM   #5
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Ask yourself these questions:

Is the intruder wielding a weapon?

Are you within the effective range of that weapon?

Does the intruder show actions that make you reasonably believe they will use that weapon to harm/kill you?

If you can answer all three of those questions with a "yes" then deadly force is authorized in 99.9999% of cases.
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." -Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.
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Old May 29, 2010, 09:03 PM   #6
Gary L. Griffiths
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Frankly, I think the "friend" heard a rumor that wasn't true.

The only way I can see something like that happening would have been a number of years ago in Massachusetts, that at the time had a law requiring you to flee, if possible, before using deadly force. Even in your own home. :barf:
Violence is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and valorous feeling which believes that nothing is worth violence is much worse. Those who have nothing for which they are willing to fight; nothing they care about more than their own personal safety; are miserable creatures who have no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of those better than themselves. Gary L. Griffiths, Chief Instructor, Advanced Force Tactics, Inc. (Paraphrasing John Stuart Mill)
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Old May 29, 2010, 09:54 PM   #7
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During a home invasion he shot a knife weilding intruder. He was supposedly convicted because he "escallated" the matter from knife to gun.
I think you are going for insight in the wrong direction. Better to ask what law was broken that says you can't elevate from a knife to a gun. There isn't one.

If he went to jail for shooting an intruder who had possessed a knife, my guess is that the cicumstances are the critical aspect, such as he shot the intruder after the intruder no longer posed a threat (such as while trying to escape, after surrendering, after already being rendered a non-threat such as shooting the intruder after the intruder was unconscious).

People often like to spin past events to make them look less guilty or less a-fool. We had a customer who had been arrested for doing "nothing to anybody" and who was simply minding his own business when the cop stopped him and arrested him for no reason. Never mind the facts that the guy was driving the wrong way down the highway and blew a .20. Yes, the drunk was minding his own business. No, none of his actions did any harm to any person. These aspects of his story were factual, but the part about being arrested for no reason was flat out wrong. He just didn't think he should have been arrested for his victimless crime. Maybe had he smashed head-on into an oncoming car and killed its occupants would he consider his arrest to be valid. I dunno.
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Old May 31, 2010, 11:00 AM   #8
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Obviously, there's more to the story....

And it happens all the time. The key (and sorry, I can't point to a specific case law), is the concept of "disparity of force". They may call it something else, but thats what it boils down to.

You have a gun. Your attacker does not. Therefore, they can be no threat, right? Wrong! The problem arises when the jury looks at the individuals. And the jury only gets to look at it if there is actually something wrong with the shooting, or if the police/prosecutor have an axe to grind, so to speak.

You don't have to see a knife, or a gun to consider someone who is atacking you a deadly threat. And what matters most is what you (a reasonable person) thought at the time, and what you did.

Take the extreme case, 97lb 83yr old granny attacked by 260lb 19yr old thug. Thug has only fists and feet, granny has a .38. Think the jury will see that as an escalation of force? I don't. But they might, if the prosecutor skillfully presents it as such. Especially if granny shot thug in the back.

The devil is in the details, and rumors and gossip don't have enough, or accurate enough details to render a vaild judgement.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old May 31, 2010, 12:22 PM   #9
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You aren't getting the whole story. My bet is that the 'offender' who is your co-worker is telling an 'innocent' story to cover his 'guilty' truth.
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