In my years of defending those charged with crimes, I have, on occasion, been called upon to defend persons charged with felonies arising out of the use of a firearm in self defense. I am defending a person charged with murder in such a case now.
One of my last self-defense cases involved a black man who shot two white men. He, and the two men, lived in an apartment complex and got into an argument in the parking lot.
The argument broke off, but the two white men decided, apparently, to teach my client a lesson and called him out on the landing outside his apartment. Now these were two big guys.
They began threatening my client and backed him into his apartment. He had a gun on his coffee table. Fearing serious personal injury, (the two men were unarmed as far as he knew, but were big and aggressive, shouting what they were going to do to him), he grabbed his gun and fired one shot as they charged into his apartment.
The single shot went through the first man, and also hit the second. They were not mortally wounded, and my client was charged with two counts of aggravated assault. Here is the law in Mississippi (as it pertains to individuals, in part, and not law enforcement officials):
§ 97-3-15. Homicide; justifiable homicide; use of defensive force; duty to retreat
The killing of a human being by the act, procurement or omission of another shall be justifiable in the following cases:
|(e)||When committed by any person in resisting any attempt unlawfully to kill such person or to commit any felony upon him, or upon or in any dwelling, in any occupied vehicle, in any place of business, in any place of employment or in the immediate premises thereof in which such person shall be;|
|(f)||When committed in the lawful defense of one’s own person or any other human being, where there shall be reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury, and there shall be imminent danger of such design being accomplished;|
My client was tried in Circuit Court and, fortunately, the jury found him not guilty. He was immediately released and his gun was returned to him. It has been my experience, however, that law enforcement is not consistent in determining whether to charge people acting in self-defense. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.
In particular, I am aware of a case in which a man shot a person 5 times (and he died, of course) who was breaking into his car, which was parked in front of the man’s house.
The burglar apparently had not threatened the car owner in any way. This, in my opinion, is not justifiable self-defense yet the man was not charged. In the case I’m defending now, a man was assaulted by a much larger man in his home, while sitting in his chair, and had taken quite a beating before firing his gun, killing the man.
This situation, in my opinion, was clearly a case of self-defense yet the man was charged with murder, arrested, put under a $250,000 bond and now sits in jail awaiting a grand jury’s determination of whether to indict him for murder.
I have no doubt he will be, as the police in his town and the district attorney appear to be determined to have him indicted for murder and tried.
Here, again, I will place my trust, and the fate of my client, in the hands of a jury, believing that they will see this is a case of legitimate self-defense.
If you act in legitimate self-defense, with a firearm, and wound or kill the aggressor, there is a good chance you will be charged with a felony, which carries significant time in jail if you are nevertheless convicted.