Andrew Branca

Anything you DON’T say can be used against you . . . ?

We’re all familiar with the portion of the Miranda warnings, given upon arrest, that states: “Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.” But what about anything you DON’T say during the arrest, can THAT be used against you in a court of law, particular in the context of self defense? Doesn’t your right to remain silent mean that you can keep silent without any negative legal consequences? …

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Attacker’s Reputation for Violence

A recent court of appeals case from Florida nicely illustrates the legal rationales by which an armed citizen claiming self defense can get evidence of his attacker’s reputation for violence in front of the jury. A clear understanding of these rationales is essential, because they each have very different conditions, and the failure to meet these conditions can result in the jury never hearing of the attacker’s violent reputations–and such evidence could obviously prove decisive …

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Falling Outside the Castle Doctrine

The boundaries of the castle doctrine and make-my-day legislation came under scrutiny in a Mississippi appellate case this past summer. The defendant, Banton, had shot and killed a man with whom his father was fighting on the family’s front lawn. Banton’s defense relied in part on Mississippi’s Castle Doctrine statute, which purports to provide that there is a legal presumption of a reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm under circumstances where there is …

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Can Living in a Bad Neighborhood Justify Self-Defense?

A recent appeals court case in Florida explored whether the dangerousness of a neighborhood could be used to help justify the decision to use lethal force to in self defense. The defendant, Dowe, had shot and killed a man outside his home, and believed that the jury would be more sympathetic to his self defense claim if they knew how dangerous his neighborhood was. The judge declined to allow such evidence to be presented to …

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