I know, I know, here I am, a lawyer on the internet, cautioning you against the dangers of legal information obtained over the internet.
The real caution, I suppose, is to beware legal information from any source, internet-based or not, that’s not based on actual law. Seeing the actual law is always best; relying on well-established reputation for applying actual law can work, too (it’s what you’re doing right now reading this, after all).
Simply taking someone’s blanket statements at face value is a formula for disaster.
A Youtube video came across my computer, in which video a narrator proposed to discuss how the legal system is likely to view your use of defensive force. I’m not going to bother linking to it, because I only got 0:22 seconds into this ~8 minute video before there was a blanket misstatement of the law, at which point I bailed. Given that I’m not willing to endure another 7 minutes of legal ignorance, I’m certainly not going to send anyone else in that videos direction.
In any case, at the 0:22 mark, the narrator makes the following statement:
“In California, the law says you have to retreat if somebody tries to fight you.”
Uh, no. Here’s actual California law, in the form of jury instruction CALCRIM 505:
“A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/great bodily injury/ <insert forcible and atrocious crime>) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.”
In other words, the actual law is the opposite of the stated claim.
Caveat emptor, as we lawyers are taught to caution.
And if you’d like to learn what the law of self defense actually is in your jurisdiction, based on your state’s actual statutes, court decisions, and jury instructions–and if staying out of prison is a desired goal, knowing the actual law is probably a pretty good idea, you might want to check out the CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA sale currently taking place right here at Law of Self Defense, with savings as great as 60%!
Attorney Andrew F. Branca Law of Self Defense LLC
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