Imminent Danger?

I was looking for something to watch as I worked on a Christmas project last night and came across an episode of the TV courtroom drama Bull named “Imminent Danger.” With that title, I had to watch it to see if the dramatization would be pro or anti-firearm.

It wasn’t pro or anti, it was very matter of fact about a woman using a firearm for her “self-defense.”

General plot: someone is stalking this woman through her tech, but they can’t prove it and the prosecutor makes her out to be the stalker. It was a decent plot. The woman defends herself with her gun - she shot the intruder in her home twice (one shot hit his leg and one hit his arm).

My issue is that she followed the injured and crawling intruder out of her home onto the sidewalk in front of her home. He clearly cannot attack her, yet she shoots and kills him. She was found not guilty because it was “self-defense.” BTW - the show takes place in New York City.

To me, that is a pretty big misrepresentation of self-defense law. She wasn’t in imminent danger when she took the shot that killed him. She should have called the police and had him arrested.

What other TV Series have you seen take some liberties with self-defense laws?

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Dawn, Hollyweird will always misrepresent anything to do with firearms, they hardly ever seem to get it right, Im not surprised…
My lovely Wife and I freed our minds when we shot our TV back in 1979 and haven’t looked back yet…

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Unfortunately, I am a die hard Packers fan and want to watch the game every weekend, @Ernie_R.

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In that episode she was clearly in the right until the threat crossed the threshold of her front door, she kept firing while he was on his back with NO weapon in his hand. I know USCCA would not have covered her.
Even if we didn’t see the shooting out side her door forensics would have known that she fired in a downward position, showing clearly that the threat was down.
At the very least manslaughter one 5-25 years pleaded down to man2, 3-15.
You would think in Bloomberg country, they would get it right. Law and Order would have gotten it right.

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Cant tell you about the legal aspect, but as far as breaking with common sense, Law and Order has plenty of it. Like Lt.Benson telling a serial killer to shoot Stabler. That was her negotiation approach.
24 is awful. It was like, look, Kim Bauer is being kidnapped…again. Look, Jack Bauer is choking another agent he is working with…again. Look, a traitor within federal LE…again.
On a positive side, Bosch (this one is on Amazon) is the ONLY cop show I can recall, where they use proper, safe weapon handling techniques.

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I saw this episode as well. Under the self defense laws of most states, this was murder as charged. The question you need to ask is did the jury do the right thing?
On its face, this was not a justifiable homicide. There was no longer an imminent threat to life or limb. But …
The stalker was a former romantic interest. Defendant made claims that he was stalking her and had broken into her security system, smart home devices and her home many times before he did it when he was shot. Law enforcement was never able to find proof of any wrong doing. Defendant was portrayed as the stalker and a crazy woman.
During a search of the decedent’s home, one of Bull’s investigators discovered a complex computer system that the stalker was using to listen to everything the defendant said and track her location. One audio clip from the night of the shooting was shared with the jury and the jury was advised there were thousands of hours of audio recordings.
So the question again is did the jury do the right thing? Technically, she was no longer in imminent danger once he walked out the door. But was she? He still had the ability to do all that he had done, and even enter her home and kill her, as long as his crimes weren’t able to be proven.
We call these sympathy verdicts. Verdicts where the jury is able to justify the acquittal. The jury may not have followed the letter of the law, but, in my opinion, they did the right thing.
Sympathy verdicts are not uncommon in cases where there is a history of domestic violence.
We should always keep in mind that laws, especially criminal laws, have to be written so that there is not a lot of room for interpretation. But we all know, sometimes, wrong is right!

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Thanks for the great breakdown, @MikeBKY!

My huge concern was that it gives people the wrong idea about the law saying she was in imminent danger at that point. I agree, sometimes wrong is right. I just really want people to have the right information when it comes to their physical and legal defense.

Her stalker wouldn’t stop - and a restraining order wouldn’t have done any good either. :confused:

(Off-topic a bit, would a faraday cage really stop the police from finding the computer? :thinking: Yes, I question a lot when it comes to TV shows and movies.)

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Is there an internet cable coming out of the Faraday cage and connecting to a utility box? No, police would have no problem with physical location.

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I agree completely. As the storyline played, it was clear she would be convicted until the surprise evidence was found. YOU CAN NEVER DEPEND ON THE SILVER BULLET BEING FOUND!

Theoretically, the faraday cage would have prevented the EMF from picked up on a scanner. But why would they even be using the scanner. If you want to go deeper, the loose flooring was pretty obvious when it was stepped on. Why didn’t police find it when they looked?

My wife gets annoyed with me when I make her stop and rewind a scene so I can show her how stupid it really was. Sometimes it is splicing issues, sometimes the guys with the guns and how unsafe they are, especially with unlimited ammo.
I think an episode of Hawaii 50 in the last few weeks talked about the rate of fire of an M4. The rate was in the range, 950/minute, but then the bad guy let loose on full auto for about 4 seconds … with a singe 30 round magazine.

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It almost becomes a game in my house - who can point out the worst of the gaffes. :rofl:

And then there are a few movies that are sacred and not allowed to point out issues. They’re rare though. :slight_smile:

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I know you’re a lawyer and everything but I still don’t agree with that… she was no longer in imminent danger I feel like that gives the wrong message for self defense I know I’m not a lawyer or anything like that but that just sounds wrong to me… If I was to put in some well placed shots in the attacker n was down and was on his back what imminent danger was she in? I would have just called 911 and kept him covered and waited for the cops to come. but to continue shooting someone like that to me in my mind is murder. like I said I’m not a lawyer! but that just does not sound right! to shoot while hes already incapacitated… i remember reading one of Andrew branca law books… it says you cannot shoot them for what you think someone’s going to do in the future …that’s not the way it works… Like I said I’m not a lawyer I only know what I’ve read and what sounds right to me and what sounds wrong…

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I agree with you @Rudy1! At least I agree with you from a purely legal perspective. If the jury followed the letter of the law, she was guilty. A woman beaten and abused by her husband who shoots him when he is sleeping is guilty of murder.
But, juries aren’t filled with lawyers. In fact, lawyers are usually excluded from juries by one side or the other. Juries are filled with generally ordinary people. People like you and me, sitting next to doctors, delivery drivers, stay-at-home moms and sanitation workers. People who have feelings and hearts and who can be swayed by more than just the facts. These cases are never black and white.
Because juries are made up of people, they can do the wrong thing for the right reason or do the right thing for the wrong reason. This is only one piece of our legal system that I absolutely love. It is not just about the words written in dusty law books but the minds and hearts of people.
I know that in my 15 years as an attorney, I have at least 1 verdict that had very little to do with the facts or law of the case. It was all about the people in the case. The jury did not like the plaintiff, they did not like the defendant, they did not like plaintiff’s attorney. I spoke to jurors after the verdict was announced and was told as much. They asked me why my client didn’t do this or that after the incident occurred. The answer was because he didn’t have a legal duty to do so but the jury didn’t want to hear that. The difference in the trial was that one of the attorneys made a connection with the jury where they did not connect with the other attorney or either of the parties to the action. My client won because the jury liked me. Not because of my legal arguments or skills. Not because of the evidence or the law. They liked me. The funny part of the case was that the plaintiff and the defendant were also lawyers. My client did not agree with me on some of my trial strategy, until the verdict was read.

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My 2 cents, though long winded ones:
As a criminal defense attorney in CA, where the PC anti-gun anti-2nd AM hatred is rampant, even we still have generally the same ‘self defense’ rules and definitions as the rest of the country - deadly force only if imminent harm if threatened. Juries here, and elsewhere, regularly convict shooters that act outside those rules. especially the extreme cases like the TV woman ‘finishing the job’ on the stalker out on the sidewalk. The rare exceptions to convictions are also like that TV show, where the jurors recognized the reality that the stalker was not going to stop his criminal attacks, and the jury decided to act as a ‘Star Chamber’ since the woman did the ‘right’ thing under the circumstances when they learned the ‘justice’ system failed her.
Yes it is a form of vigilante justice, both for the woman and the jury, but sometimes, hopefully rarely, that is the ‘only’ justice available from the legal system.
The worst case scenario, least justifiable - How many times over the years have you read about some obviously guilty, caught red-handed, already confessed, evil murderer, rapist, child molester, etc., getting off on a ‘technicality’, and some grieving family member taking the law into his own hands? Was he right/justified?? Depends upon the true facts, the failures of the justice system, and your righteous moral outrage. Was he doing justice, protecting society from imminent harm, or acting in vengeance?
Remember please, that We The People have the God given right and responsibility of our self defense, otherwise we wouldn’t be carrying guns, right? We have merely assigned part of those rights to the government, courts and ‘law enforcement’ agencies. If that system fails to faithfully act, or can’t successfully do so, then the People sometimes may have the need and moral right to apply the law themselves to the benefit of society. That is little different from the reality that if a violent criminal is attacking you in your home, you don’t have to wait for 911 response instead of defending yourself, since help may never come, or be untimely. Kind of like the TV woman.
Just to be clear, as an attorney I would never counsel anyone to break the law or exert vigilante justice, before or after the fact, or directly ask a jury to do so. That is a difficult moral decision only the citizen or juror can make for themselves. Although, I would ask jurors to have ‘sympathy’, to do real ‘justice’, and put themselves emotionally in the shoes of the stressed, fearful defendant at the time of the act before deciding guilt. Ask yourselves whether you are doing ‘justice’ or ‘vengeance’. There is a moral difference.
The attorneys trying to explain, and the law abiding citizens trying to understand, these rules and arguments, point up the reality that most people don’t know enough about the ‘law’ to make ‘proper’ judgments under high stress, like the TV woman. As one of the posts mentioned, if she had in panic rapidly fired all shots inside her house, she would have been on much sounder footing to asset self defense ‘under stress’, and an easier case for me to argue to the jury.
My position, with clients, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, as is the position of USCCA, is to be prepared to defend yourself where-ever you are, be legal in doing so, get good training in self defense law, and in use of your firearms.

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You’re absolutely right about that …I hadn’t thought about that… And I remember reading about this in the law books of Andrew barnca too… Like you said… jurors are sales reps ,doctors, regular working class people like you and me some that don’t know about the law that can be swayed… By prosecutors or public defenders
So I get you… This is why I like reading Andrew Brancas book it has so much good information in there …carry a gun so you’re hard to kill… know the law so you’re hard to convict… And every case is different a person who you think should be convicted sometimes gets off and then a person who is innocent can be convicted for something he didn’t even do

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Welcome to the Community Terry!!

Mad props to you for practicing law in CA as well as being pro-2A in Cali. God Bless from Free America, Wolverines!!, lol

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I can see both sides. I grew up in a very violent household. He would beat my mom day in and day out, the hospital quit asking what happened. Police and restraining orders didn’t help. She would try to pack us up and runaway, but he had people watching so he always found us no matter where we went. Of course the beating for running away was horrible. One nite, after he beat mom, he passed out and she took his gun. I woke up at the moment that she had it pointed at him and ready to fire. She noticed then put the gun down without waking him. In my eyes-she should’ve killed him while she had the chance. I don’t know the legal side of it other than since he was asleep it could’ve been ruled murder but with the history could’ve been justified. Right or wrong, sometimes women or even men, have to do what they have to do. Will it be legally right-probably not but for a victim could be the relief they seek.

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Tough way to grow up @Tennessee :confused: very sorry you had that.
Puts a very personal face on it.

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That is tough @Tennessee! There’s no telling what would have happened if she had pulled the trigger.

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I don’t get too personal on things for the most part. But the situation made me who I am today;-)

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It was tough sir. And there isn’t any telling what would’ve happened if she pulled the trigger. I remember what lead up to it and the short time afterwards. An angel came and helped us get away for good. It has taken her years to get passed a few things, she’ll never get over it. As for me, it’s made me the protector that I am-even then I was trying to protect her and my siblings.

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