Self-Defense Law as an Algorithm
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Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC


25 thoughts on “Self-Defense Law as an Algorithm”

  1. I think this form of analysis is very helpful. It is a further refinement of looking at what we should be considering. Looking forward to your development.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      That’s a good suggestion, and I’m sure the final versions will incorporate such details.
      I’m just a small-town lawyer using this flowchart software for the first time. 🙂

      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  2. Always value analysis, so this approach provides still another way to explain and thus understand the 5 Elements. Thank you!
    Especially liked treatment of Reasonableness.
    Initial Aggressor – yes – Regained Innocence -yes – No Jail Time?
    The IA is still held accountable for Initial Infraction – an is thus subject to Jail Time.
    Reasonableness – what about knowledge of “victim’s reputation” as aggressive bag guy, normally armed, etc.
    Again, thank you. John, KNOW THE LAW

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      Quite right, the initial aggressor is still held responsible for his initial act of aggression, he merely recovers innocence moving forward.
      We’re really focused here, however, on whether there’s a viable self-defense claim for whatever the final charge based on the later use of force, which is going to be something other than the act of initial aggression or there wouldn’t be a self-defense argument to make.
      Nevertheless, good catch!
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  3. Andrew, this is brilliant. As a visual learner these algorithms are tremendously helpful.

    As a physician and a pilot I’ve had to learn and absorb huge amounts of info. This is very helpful.

    If I had copies of these I would put small explanatory notes along the sides for clarity.

    Every morning with coffee, I’d run through the charts until I knew the algorithms by heart.

    I bought your program, book- kindle, and hardback. Becoming a big fan. Ray Brown.

  4. This type of learning / teaching tool is right up my mental alley. Thanks for taking the time to create these. I look forward to seeing further development on them, and hopefully in a soft format I can keep in my back pocket when I facilitate conversations during the use of force section of my classroom work. I especially liked the AVOIDANCE slide. Understanding SYG/Castle Doctrine and the fact Oregon is a *soft* SYG state due to case law (2007 OSC) can be challenging to many. Much thanks.

    1. “This type of learning / teaching tool is right up my mental alley.” Mine, too. Wasn’t to watch his live on Friday, but am enjoying the replay on the Blog on Sunday afternoon. Great material, clearly explained, as usual.

  5. Useful? Absolutely! I’ve listened to and/or watched your presentations on the LOSD and found them incredibly helpful. I have the LOSD 3rd Edition, as well. But these algorithms/flowcharts/diagrams are a definite enhancement. Just like Ray Brown, above, I am a visual learner and I am (rather, was – I’m retired) in aviation and very accustomed to using flow charts for trouble-shooting or learning complex procedures. The “Innocence” algorithm and your explanation brought to light a question for me. I understood (from your presentations) the concept of “regained innocence.” But you just told/showed us that if it is determined that one is a “provoker with intent” (PWI) that innocence can never be regained. Did I get that right? If so… the question is, how far and/or how long must the “PWI” disengage for the incident is over (i.e. after which, should the other party approach and initiate aggression, it’s a new incident and the 5 elements are again applicable)?

    That’s a bit wordy, yes. What I mean is, I engage Bubba and dare him to take his best shot and he does so (thus, I provoked him with intent), I then realize this was NOT a good idea and attempt to disengage. As I understand this, I cannot regain the element of innocence precisely because I was the PWI. BUT… what if I run down the street, down an ally, through the kitchen of the Chinese restaurant and find myself alone on another street only to find Bubba rounding the next corner? Suddenly we’re again face-to-face and it’s on! Is this a new incident, or am I still considered the PWI? If I AM still considered the PWI, then what is the time parameter? 24 hours? Next week?

    Thank you and I look forward to your final version of these algorithms, although I think they’re pretty darned good already!

    1. Typo; 1st paragraph; last sentence should read, “…how far and/or how long must the “PWI” disengage BEFORE the incident is over…” meaning before the incident is considered to have ended. Thanks, again.

  6. I am from Maryland, Can you use protective deadly force if assaulted by an attacker to a hypodermic needle containing the COVID-19 virus or any other deadly biological agent or a chemical agent or drug that is toxic? A man got arrested in my state for attacking a woman with a needle that contained semen. The needle was recovered at the time of his arrest and was tested for STDs and the woman was treated for possible STDs that may be in the semen.

  7. I like the algorithm format as it is applied to the five (5) elements of self-defense. It clarifies the concepts. A great way to explain these legal concepts to laymen. You may want to include this format into your future update of your best selling book–Law of Self Defense. Thanks.

  8. I have both a law enforcement background and an engineering education. I find a flow or decision chart an interesting visualization tool. I missed the text transcription usually provided as I can read much faster than listening to you orally present the material. I also learn better through reading.

  9. I definitely like this approach, Andrew. This format will definitely help me develop the thought processes necessary to understand the five elements. I think the two visual aids make a good pair.

    That said, you show “Hard Stand Your Ground,” “Soft Stand Your Ground,” and “Duty To Retreat.” You also show that both “Soft Stand Your Ground” and “Duty To Retreat” require retreat if safe retreat is possible. How, then, are they different? If “Soft Stand Your Ground” requires retreat if it’s safe to do so and “Duty To Retreat” (as you say) never requires retreat if it’s not safe to do so, doesn’t that make them the same? It would seem to me that there’s only either “Stand Your Ground” with no restrictions (never required to retreat) and “Duty To Retreat” which exceptions (required to retreat if safe to do so).

    What am I missing?

    I have the book and the L1 Course (I’ve not yet begun either) so they may be made clear there but thought I’d ask anyway.

    1. Sorry, forgot to add…

      While there’s a caveat for “Soft Stand Your Ground” for whether a reasonable person would retreat if possible, it seems that the reasonable person standard also holds for whether retreat is safe at all for “Duty To Retreat” states. So it seems like a distinction without a difference.

    2. I think the difference is — and it’s not a fantastic difference, but it’s there — is that in “soft Stand Your Ground” States, it’s easier for a Defendant to argue that they don’t necessarily have the responsibility to retreat than it is in a State that doesn’t recognize Stand Your Ground at all. It’ a little easier for the Defendant to say “Sure, the Prosecutor says that this particular avenue of retreat is reasonable, but is it, really? When under attack, was I really supposed to be aware of all my options? Particularly since, per the Stand Your Ground standard, I should have this right to stand my ground, when I am viciously attacked?”

      Fortunately, in any State, if there’s a clear and safe avenue of retreat, it’s always reasonable to take it … the nice thing about hard Stand Your Ground States is that these States don’t require absolute omnipotence when it comes to recognizing safe avenues of retreat.

      1. You could be right, @SNOWFARTHING, though I would think the “reasonable person” standard would still apply in both kinds of states. Because reasonableness is ultimately the jury’s decision (I think), it seems to be a distinction without a difference or (at least) a shade of meaning that would be difficult to parse. I’m hoping it will become more clear when I view the class and read the book.

  10. This flowchart approach is definitely an excellent structure for presenting and discussing the five essentials. Yes, work it into both your presentations and your publications.
    As you refine the graphics I recommend you prepare them in two sets. One, using the basic typography you have now, is suitable for use in printed materials, to include a future update of the LoSD book (4th edition?). The second set should be designed specifically for use as slides in your blog videos, video courses, and in-person presentations. These slide versions will need much larger typeface and thicker lines to be easily readable by your audience. You may need to move the boxes around to fit in the slide version.
    Here is a reliable tool to test for readability of slides to be projected: Print the slides on standard letter size paper (8 1/2×11 inc) in the six slides per page mode. Any slide with type that is difficult to read or graphic elements that are difficult to discern when held at normal reading distance will be very-difficult-to-impossible for audiences to read on the projection screen. This test is essential because slides developed on a desktop or notebook computer screen may be quite easy to read sitting at the computer, but be totally unreadable by an audience, especially in the back, where folks tend to sit.
    Note: Once you develop the project-slide set, you may find that set also suitable for your printed publications, and decide to keep only that universally usable set.

  11. Once you finish developing the algorithms I’d like to be able to print them off.
    I just started watching the DVDs, so much info, you can lose the forest for the trees. I need to totally memorize the algorithms, that is the core data, all other info gets added on to the algorithms. At least that is how I learn. Once you know the skeleton its easy to add the muscles to their proper place.

    Please stay with this project.

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