Killing Someone in Self Defense (Don't Need Answer Fast)

I’ve gotten hooked on a TV show that deals with people who survived various life-threatening situations. The vast majority have been victims of crimes, such as home-invasion, kidnapping, etc.

At least a couple of the survivors survived because they eventually killed one or more of their assailants.

My question is: if I kill someone, even in the most clear-cut case of self-defense, do I still have to go to trial? Does the prosecutor have discretion to not try a homicide case if it was unquestionably a matter of self-defense (even if he/she knows the jury will never convict), or does it still have to go to trial, as a matter of procedure?

NOTE: I realize that the answer will vary across the 50 states. Please answer with whatever state’s laws you are familiar with.

We just had a local case where the DA said it was self defense and there was no trial, they never even filed charges. It was a guy who killed his son who barged into his house and was threatening him. Don’t recall if the son had a gun or not.

Whether or not you go to trial is entirely up to whatever legal authority determines that you committed a crime. A district attorney, grand jury, whatever, is not required to prosecute you, and if the investigation leads to a conclusion of self-defense you’re probably going to be fine. But not always.

Based on what I’ve seen here in Orange County, Florida, The DA would be unlikely to prosecute in a clear cut case of self defense.

In my State, a justifiable homicide by a CCW holder not only does not need a trial (and they are unlikely to even be arrested, although their weapon will likely be temporarily confiscated), but they are also protected from civil action. I specify “CCW holder” because I have not done a legal search, I’m only going off the written instructions passed to me from my AG-approved CCW classes.

A person with a CCW gets special protections under the law? I would not have expected that.

Just a theory

Well someone with a CCW would have passed required background checks confirming you probably don’t have a shady history prone to violence/nefarious dealings (or at least you never got caught).

They have also been given instruction on the legal implications of shooting someone making them more able to make an educated decision about making the decision to pull the trigger. Granted, if you have time to make an educated decision about shooting someone you probably don’t need to but IANAL nor do I have a CCW or nor have I been in a gunfight. YMMV, do not invest without reading prospectus, offer not valid in Delaware.

Or possibly politicians wanted to get more votes and money from the NRA by giving special rights to CCW people. Many pols will do a lot to appease the gun lobby.

We have a case that just ended in a mistrial here. The defendant admitted that he chased the man down for blocks after an attempt robbery. The robber gave up and had his hands up pleading. The defendant said, “I told him he was going to die and shot him.”
First the judge threw out murder in the 1st. Then they jury refused to convict by about 50/50. A retrial may be full acquittal.

If my life is threatened, I’m programmed to go ballistic right off the bat and settle up later. I know from experience the best thing to do is shut up and get an attorney. The prosecutor has great latitude. If you don’t jump at their deal, they often throw in the towel in my venue.

Around here anyways (and it seems similar in other places I’ve heard of), if something looks like self-defense, there’s a coroner’s inquest which examines the evidence and either definitively declares the killing as justified or sends the case back to the DA. If the set of facts are complicated, a coroner’s inquest can be quite lengthy and resemble a trial in many ways.

In the more rural areas out here, the coroner and the sheriff are sometimes the same office, so it can be the same person investigating the scene who makes the final determination. When the sheriffs department is involved in a shooting, they bring in the coroner from another county to do the inquest.

It’s up to the local authorities, but most of the time if it’s clear-cut self defense there is no trial because no crime has been committed.

Now, if it is NOT “clear cut” self-defense there may be a trial and the verdict may, in that case, be “self-defense”.

In every jurisdiction I am familiar with that is the case.

I should point out, though, that even if there is not a trial the person in question will certainly wind up talking to police at some point. That is also the case when you use violence in your own defense and no one winds up dead - I and several other people I know well have had to physically defend themselves from attack (self-defense weapons inducing fists, feet, knives, guns, a lead pipe, and a crossbow) and the usual outcome was a police showing up and asking questions about what happened, in some cases requiring the person to show up more than once to make a statement (at which point I suggest a lawyer might be a good idea). In none of those cases did anything go to trial, but certainly the authorities put some effort into making sure those were instances of self-defense and not assault.

(Well, OK, there were assaults involved, and attempted robberies, but I’m speaking from the viewpont of the person defending and not aggressing)

What case was this?

While CCW holders do have a lot of rights ordinary people do not, what I said was:

I was merely saying that in at least that case I knew there was a difference. I did not want to speak from outside my experience and knowledge, so I was defining the limits of my knowledge. AFAIK the situation is identical for non-CCW holders in my State.

In places that use a grand jury wouldn’t it be normally up to them to decide whether or not to go ahead with a trial?

And none of this would protect you from a civil trial would it? I mean the dead guy’s family could sue for wrongful death in a civil suit, similar to what the Goldman family did to Mr Simpson.

The man’s name is Tigh Croft. He is a security guard of some kind. His house had been robbed several times and he was fed up. But he also knows how to use a gun and was not in danger himself after the robber fled. About half the jury felt he was threatened and would not convict. Tigh talked way to much about his killing the man. I was shocked at the mistrial.

The man’s name is Tigh Croft. He is a security guard of some kind. His house had been robbed several times and he was fed up. But he also knows how to use a gun and was not in danger himself after the robber fled. About half the jury felt he was threatened and would not convict. Tigh talked way to much about his killing the man. I was shocked at the mistrial.
(The city is Detroit.)

Croff, apparently.

Just popping in to say, love the title of this thread. :smiley:

Home invasion, 1 dead (wasn’t me). Took the DA 6 months to come to the conclusion I was within my rights. Specifically to defend myself and my family. Careful, though, don’t shoot anyone in the back, even if they are in your home. In can complicate things.

It’s my understanding that the DA can always choose not to prosecute, in any case, and that they usually will so choose when the chance of a conviction is small (unless there’s an election coming up soon and they want to appear tough on crime).