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Legal Implications

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In view of the present U.S. laws, one may fight in self-defense and still end up in jail, have to face a lengthy trial, and very expensive lawsuits. This danger is so prevalent that it often overshadows the technical aspects of self-protection as such. The laws on self-defense vary from state to state and from country to country and if certain generalizations can be made, these should be interpreted conservatively by the individual, since their interpretation directly involves his responsibility.

 Anyone under attack may use force for his defense, only in proportion to the potential effect of the attack, otherwise he may well be considered the offender and not the victim. It is best to attempt to evade an attack, rather than to strike first in self-defense. It is for this reason that evasive tactics are emphasized in A.S.P. If one is too rash, he may not be able to convince a jury that he acted in self-defense. Depending on the effect of the blow, hitting a person may range from a minor crime (misdemeanor) to a felony.

When one provokes a fight by his attitude, or by what he says, he cannot rely on the laws of self-defense to clear himself. If a person threatens you without physically attacking you at the same time, it is best to walk away from the fight, although you may feel that you could easily overcome the person threatening you. You will thus avoid the possibility of getting entangled in a lengthy and nerve racking legal situation.

Remember the biblical: "Good sense makes a man slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense". Proverbs 15:1.

When your life is in danger, the law is on the side of common sense and does not require you, the intended victim, to retreat. The use of force in proportion to an attack, including killing a human being, is only justified in case of danger to one’s life or bodily integrity. However, interpreting the law conservatively, to your best judgment, increases your changes to stay out of trouble.

Most people consider that the right and honorable thing to do is to come to the help of the victim of a serious attack. And it is. Unfortunately, in our society, one has to think twice before springing into action, except if the victim of the attack is a relative or loved one. Sounds horrible, doesn't it?  For instance, the victim may out of fear of his attacker, or his attacker’s family, refuse to testify in your favor. Furthermore, if in the process of protecting an intended victim, you hurt seriously or kill his assailant, you may be in deep trouble. You will have to prove to a jury that you acted in self-defense, because the attacker turned against you and you had no other choice. You must rely heavily on the testimony of the intended victim to prove your good intentions, since you cannot expect the attacker to tell the truth. Keep also in mind, that in the process of helping the victim, HE may get hurt or even killed; he or his heirs may sue you, claiming he was hurt as a result of your intervention. Yet, it is hard to stand by and watch someone being attacked, even if he is a total stranger.

This, unfortunately, is the best course of action if your intervention will not help him QUICKLY and DECISIVELY. You can always be of help by calling the police. Incidentally, even the police is not immune from such legal jeopardy, except that they have their department to foot the costs of a suit, since they act as its agents. Briefly, if you wish to help someone under attack, either be sure that you can intervene effectively and on the right side of the law, or stay out of it and call the police. Again this will not apply if the intended victim is a member of your family, or a loved one.

In general, try not to act hastily; stay out of fights if at all possible. But if you HAVE to fight, fight decisively, while keeping your head and using judgment. This is where training proves its value.

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