What does "Reasonable Force" mean to you?

I am a defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA. I represent a lot of people in self-defense cases and currently have a case that I need your opinion on.

My client was originally charged with attempted murder. At a hearing, the judge agreed that my client had a right to self-defense but stated that the force used by my client was excessive and beyond what was needed. So the judge reduced the charge from an attempted murder to a voluntary manslaughter. We are in trial court and have filed a motion challenging the previous judge’s ruling. I believe the force used by my client was adequate and permitted (he was attacked by 4 people and shot one of them 6 times). I am curious as what you think what the definition of “reasonable force” is?

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your responses.

2 Likes

Not enough information given to respond meaningfully.

6 Likes

Highly subjective and depending on one’s 2A views.
As for me, what would an Average Joe do in a similar situation?

I guess six shots fired on one of the assailants was an issue. IMO number of shots fired, as is, is not an indicator of excessive response.


Edited to say subjective, not objective. Sorry.

4 Likes

Welcome to the Community! I look forward to any knowledge or legal insight that you care to share with us that will further aid us in being responsible gunowners.

5 Likes

Hi Nathan,

I kept it vague on purpose. However, here is a little bit info that might help:

My client was attacked in a parking lot of a convenience store. He avoided the attackers and made it to his car. The 4 attackers followed him, 2 on each side of the car. Opened both the passenger and driver door. My client came out with a handgun to scare the attackers away. One of the attackers on the passenger side threw a bottle at my client that hit him in the face. At the exact moment he got hit, my client started firing at one of the guys in front of him. The guy ran away and my client followed, emptying his gun (6 rounds).

Hope that might help

2 Likes

If you are in fear for your life, does it matter how many rounds you fire to protect yourself?

2 Likes

That is a lot of detail. This thread’s existence doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Chasing a fleeing unarmed man and emptying a gun into him seems like a poor decision

5 Likes

Looking forward to it

1 Like

Thank you for your response.

1 Like

Possibly

1 Like

Hello and welcome @Arash
The threat ran away, your client was no longer in danger IMHO

2 Likes

Can you tell me why?

I am asking not to challenging you, but rather to learn different points of view that may help in a jury trial.

1 Like

Tell you why an unarmed fleeing man did not present an imminent deadly threat?

1 Like

Hi Karacal,

Thank you, but my client kept running away from the “threat” on several occasions and the “threat” kept following him. What is to say the threat was not coming back?

1 Like

Let me add this to the fact pattern. Once my client gets hit in the head with the bottle (that was full), his left eye socket shatters on impact. So there was “deadly force” used against him. Does that change your opinion?

2 Likes

So the argument is that lethal force was justified because what is to say the unarmed man wasn’t going to do something different in the future?

1 Like

I hope not to get into a self-defense situation.
I doubt I would be asking myself how many shots i fired.
Rather, the pressing question is, “did I stop the threat?

2 Likes

Yes. The argument is basically that deadly forced was used and the possibility of the attackers using such force again was possible.

1 Like

It almost sounded like justified, initially. But that other tidbit made it dicey. At the point that he was defending himself, IMO, was justified, but when he started following, it was no longer justified. When he followed, he was no longer in fear of grievous bodily injury or death to himself or others. I would further opine that there could be a valid argument (perhaps depending on the state’s law) that when he followed, he became the aggressor that inflicted deadly force opposed to defending himself or others by its use.

Aside from that, in a self-defense situation (generically), I believe “reasonable force” is that force necessary to stop the threat. Round count is another place for lawyers to play. But in the situation, it’s whatever is necessary to “end” the threat. But I’m not a lawyer, JMHO.

2 Likes

Thank you. That is what our possession is as well

1 Like