View Full Version : A possible project....is it worthwhile?

08-12-2009, 5:06 PM
Recently, I got into a bit of casual conversation with a lawyer, whose speciality is criminal defence. It wouldn't be appropriate to mention his name, or that of the firm for which he works.

In casual conversation, he mentioned.......if I understood this correctly......that prosecutors in this area were very likely to file charges against any victim who uses, or even 'brandishes' a firearm when confronted by a criminal assailant.

Apparently.......and I don't have a very clear understanding of the details........there have.....allegedly.....been cases in which a woman used or 'brandished' a firearm, often a handgun, under circumstances which 'reasonable' people would have considered legitimate self-defence, only to find themselves facing criminal charges.......in some cases, a 'felony' charge which is so complicated and expensive to defend, that it, in effect, destroys the life situation of the victim.

Again 'allegedly'......some of these 'cases' were 'plea-bargained' down to misdemeanour status, or a lower-level felony conviction was pled, for a 'suspended sentence'. In the latter instance, the victim, tho not imprisoned for very long, had to pay a lot of money for a bail bond, and would have 'a felony conviction' on their record......meaning, among other things, that they would have 'prohibited person' status, and could never again 'possess' a firearm.

(Understand, this is all 'hear-say' from conversation.....I may well have mis-understood what I heard)

Allegedly......and I must stress 'allegedly', the recent 'expose' series 'Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice' by a San Jose news paper represents only the 'tip of the ice-berg' of so-called 'prosecutorial misconduct'.

Again stressing 'allegedly', as I have no first-hand knowledge whatever of any such cases, some prosecutors will file felony charges against a victim in any incident in which 'a gun is involved'.......and wilfully conceal exculpatory evidence.

Now, here on the Calguns site, we see a lot of questions regarding self-defence handguns for women........and we read the stories of various people who have been charged with technical violations of law, even tho no one alleges that their possession or use of a firearm was in any way intended to attempt to commit a crime. (if one uses 'crime' in the sense of causing, or threatening, harm to a victim)

Might it be possible to interest some group of researchers in a project, that of researching the history of prosecutions of women who used, or were alleged to have used, a firearm, in a self-defence situation?

Using records regularly available to the public, (or following 'Freedom of Information' request procedures), would it be possible to find these cases, examine them, and do a follow-up on the effect of the cases on the lives of the victims? Would, possibly, some of the victims consent to being interviewed, months or years after the incident?

To clarify, I speak only of alleged 'self-defence' cases, not cases in which women were tried for alleged wilful criminal use of a firearm, such as gang violence, or participation in a robbery.

Why should this be done, and a book/pamphlet/web-site synopsising the cases (obviously, using fictitious names and ending case numbers in 'xxx') be done?

It would appear that some number of women have chosen to own or keep handguns for self-defence, but it may well be that they really don't understand what might happen to them if they should ever feel compelled to fire or even 'brandish' a gun, in a self-defence situation.

A 'reasonable person' might read the laws regarding their alleged right to use 'deadly force' in self-defence situations in which a criminal assailant demonstrates intent to kill or inflict bodily harm........and say 'that seems reasonable to me'.

Alllegedly, tho, there are prosecutors who feel, and act, differently......and there may be some extremely fine points of law which must be satisfied to establish legitimate self-defence.

It is hardly 'reasonable' that any woman.....or any man, for that matter..... who has been convinced by circumstances that nothing less than the use of a firearm will adequately defend them from a criminal action, acts in 'reasonable' self-defence, and is then subjected to indictment on criminal charges for doing so, should ever happen........and yet, its alleged that exactly this has been so, in some number of instances.

Unfortunately, there are a great many Californians who simply are not adequately informed, as to the case law which has developed, over the years.........is it possible to abstract and clarify the case law in self-defence cases, in a way which can be clearly understood by the general public.........particularly the next woman who asks me 'what kind of gun should I have for self-defence, and when is it alright for me to use it?'

I have no choice but to reply 'well, I can discuss and demonstrate the technical issues of handguns all day long.............but.........I dare not say anything whatever about the legal issues of self-defence, as anything I might say is almost certainly wrong.

Now, thats not much help to a woman who is considering owning a gun, cos she feels she has reason to fear for her life, is it?



movie zombie
08-12-2009, 8:13 PM
would be an interesting project and it does raise interesting questions. perhaps a law student or group of law students?

however, any woman considering owning a gun needs to do more than buy it and learn the technical issues of using it. an instructor can and should provide a reading list and website resources, imo. there are also self-defense courses in which contingency plans may be put into place for situations....which i think would get into the what is legal and what is not legal arena.

personally, i don't think brandishing a weapon is self-defense. if i'm going to pull it, i'm going to use it. and hopefully i'll be prepared for the legal questions.


08-13-2009, 1:42 PM
This brings to mind that DAs are voted in, thank goodness. If they filed on every self-defense situation, they have way too much time on their hands. Just voicing my opinion like everyone else on here -- the law is unfortunately twisted for personal gain in some situations (look at those poor Lacrosse guys) by crazed DAs while on the other hand, there are some very good prosecutors out there who handle themselves ethically.

I think where the alleged self-defense act occurs plays a big part in whether the victim risks prosecution or not. For example, some whack job kicks in the front door, armed with a knife, and intends to do bodily harm to the woman and her family. She being a well-versed Calgunner, draws and blows the dirt bag to Kingdom Come. A good defense attorney should be able to point out that she was in fear for life and the lives of her loved ones.

Guess it all depends where the victim is...

08-14-2009, 1:50 PM
(some material redacted) For example, some whack job kicks in the front door, armed with a knife, and (some material redacted) A good defense attorney should be able to point out that she was in fear for life and the lives of her loved ones.

Well, yes that seems 'reasonable'.......but consider.....unless that victim is one of the socio-economic strata in which the services of 'A good defense attorney' can be afforded....they may well be in some real trouble.

How many of the general public have a spare $10-50K.....the cost of an effective criminal defence by a highly qualified specialist attorney..... readily available to them, particularly these days when so many people are losing their jobs and fearing the repossession of their houses, etc.?

As a 'real world' scenario, how many of us might have......or rapidly develop....the legal skills necessary to represent ourselves in a case of that nature?

If the alternative is, for example, taking out a second mortgage on one's home, and risking losing the home depending on one's ability to make the higher payments......or losing one's freedom to a basically fraudulent criminal charge by failure to employ an adequate attorney.......there is a rather dramatic 'quality of life' situation there.

I had to hedge the earlier comment with a lot of disclaimers......'hearsay', 'alleged', etc., ad nauseam, cos I don't have personal first-hand knowledge of these cases........

I will say this, tho........if.....and, yes, thats another disclaimer.....if......it is proven that any significant number of prosecutors, or other personnel within the criminal justice system, are, or have been, committing acts of corruption, then the eventual effect is far larger in scope than 'merely' the destruction of the 'quality of life' of some small number of people.

It is......to an extent we can only theorise......the ultimate 'bad example' for the young people now growing up, and beginning to understand the realities of our culture.

Are they being given, however subtly, the message that the criminal justice system is just another racket, a pseudo-Mafia, in which 'almost anything can be fixed' if one is able to 'pay off' (i.e., be able to employ very expensive attorney services)......or, conversely, if one is an innocent victim, but cannot 'pay off', one is likely to be sent to the gulag......in a 'police state' in which 'the gulag', generally, is one of the larger economic interests?



08-15-2009, 9:00 AM
If the ones I care about are in danger, I'm not going to speculate on the costs of hiring a good defense team.

08-15-2009, 2:16 PM
Well, Steyr, all I can say to that is 'congratulations for your success in establishing a good economic situation for yourself and your loved ones'

(and I do mean that sincerely......no one really would have the time to speculate on the cost of a criminal defence, when confronted with a situation which could, literally, be 'life or death' in a matter of seconds.........but it is ever so reassuring when one is sufficiently economically successful that the cost of a criminal defence team, should one be needed, is feasible)

My issue, in the earlier comments, concerned victims wrongfully prosecuted, by malfeasance on the part of prosecutors, and also the effect of a perception of this aspect of our governmental process as corrupt, by young people.

So, if I may, I'd put this in the context of a 'what if'.

What if you acted responsibly in defending your loved ones, but then were fraudulently charged with a felony level crime for doing so?

What if you were one of the many thousands of ordinary Americans with a fairly good job, but were nonetheless in a precarious economic situation, such as the many who have had illnesses in the family, or other situations in which they were 'barely keeping their heads above water' relative to mortgage payments, etc.?

Worse, what if you were among the many thousands of Americans who once had good jobs, but lost them when their company closed down, or their jobs were 'off-shored', such as the computer people whose employers closed plants here, to re-open in, say, India, or some such place?

What if there were simply no good jobs available in your field now, so you were working at a relatively lowly-paid temp job, just trying to 'get by somehow' and were one of the many families who are desperately trying to avoid foreclosure on their home, have used up their savings accounts, etc.?

In short, what if you were one of the thousands of ordinary, honest, hard-working Americans who could not possibly pay for a good criminal defence team?