Legal to Defend Yourself against Police
If you are confronted by the police, the law provides a certain level of protection, depending on the type of evidence of criminal behaviour in question. So it`s the kind of encounter you have that affects your constitutional rights. If you are charged with a crime in Colorado or have any questions about the subject of this article, please call our office. The law firm of H. Michael Steinberg in Denver, Colorado, provides criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and robust legal representation. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue. Your rights and right to self-defense under the Fourth Amendment can be triggered if the police have no evidence that you committed a crime and there is an inappropriate display of physical violence. The moment you want to leave and your freedom is restricted, the meeting is no longer consensual. “It is interpreted as synonymous with the term `illegal`, `prohibited by law`. Unlawful means unlawful arrest or other unlawful exercise of official power and does NOT preclude the exercise of the right of self-defence arising from the use of unreasonable or excessive force. This horrific series of events occurred in Midland in the early hours of March 5, 2019.
At 1:16 a.m., police were informed by their dispatcher that an alarm had been set off in the lavish home of David Wilson, a self-made oil tanker, in a neighborhood north of the city. Constable Nathan “Hayden” Heidelberg and a rookie named Victoria Allee arrived, walked around the house and checked a door to the backyard, which they found locked. Then he went to the front, where Allee pushed down and opened the lever on the nine-foot-high stainless steel door handle with glass windows. A voice alarm sounded and Heidelberg closed the door. By this time, two more officers had arrived. Heidelberg opened the door again, flashed with his flashlight, and announced, “Midland police, come to the sound of my voice.” Moments later, a shot was fired that hit Heidelberg in the wrist and then in the chest. He fell and his buddies threw him away. Sadly, the injury was fatal and Heidelberg died an hour later in hospital.
Wilson, 37, was arrested and charged with manslaughter – with “reckless” causation of Heidelberg`s death. What if Stephon Clark had a gun in his hand? If he had shot them preemptively because he thought they would shoot him on sight, when they saw that he had a gun, would he have been justified? What if the police burst into Clark`s house? While all appellants supported the fundamental right to be armed in the home, not everyone in Midland thinks it`s a good idea. One of those people is Sara Spector, a longtime local criminal defense attorney who also served as an assistant prosecutor for seventeen years. “I`m very pro-law enforcement,” she told me, “but I`m against Stand Your Ground and the castle doctrine. They can lead to the needless deaths of police officers, the people who protect us. When the police are called into people`s homes, it is already a highly explosive situation where adrenaline is pumping and they do not think clearly, and no matter how well trained the police are, they know that any of them, just like Hayden Heidelberg, could be shot in a very tragic situation. And it will happen again, I promise it will happen. The detainee`s right not to be arrested without excessive use of force that does not cause serious injury or death can be protected and confirmed through judicial proceedings, while loss of life or serious bodily harm cannot be repaired in the courtroom. In the vast majority of cases, however, as Bar`s shows that resistance and intervention do not improve the situation. They generate violence where there would not have been otherwise, or encourage further violence, leading to a situation of arrest by hostilities. Today, police sometimes have to use lethal weapons to protect themselves. If there is resistance on the part of the person lawfully arrested and others come to the aid of the person, the situation can escalate to the point where what should have been a simple lawful arrest results in serious injury or death to the detainee, the police or innocent bystanders.
An orderly and safe prosecution requires that a detainee not resist lawful arrest and that a bystander not intervene on his behalf, unless the detainee is indeed about to be seriously injured or killed. Compare the general right to self-defence above with the following law, which deals with the degree of force used by police during an arrest: “Self-defence enables a person attacked by the police to defend himself if he has reason to believe that unreasonable or excessive force . is used by law enforcement officials or its use is imminent. In summary, Colorado`s general self-defense law – Section 18-1-704 – allows a person to defend himself or herself if he or she has reason to believe that unreasonable or excessive force, prohibited in Section 18-1-707(1)(a), is being used by law enforcement officers or that its use is imminent. On the other hand – beware – a person can NOT resist unlawful arrest if excessive force is NOT used. Self-defence is permitted only when inappropriate or excessive force is accompanied by lawful or unlawful arrest. It does not matter if the arrest is lawful if excessive force is used. The accused used physical violence against another person: “Sir. Come on. Don`t do that,” Wallace was heard saying in police body camera footage released shortly after the shooting. “Why are you asking me if I live here?” Although Wallace is eventually found, arrested and currently faces the death penalty for the officer`s death, experts told VICE News that anyone claiming to have used self-defense after injuring or killing a law enforcement member needs much more than a legion of online defense lawyers to prove their actions were legally justified. even in the most obvious circumstances. Because police have a wide range of powers to do their job, it`s a tough game,” Colorado defenseman Kevin Cahill said.
“That line between `Hey, I`m defending myself` and `I`m resisting arrest` is very grey.” According to Cahill, invoking self-defense against law enforcement would force someone to overcome two already difficult evidentiary burdens at once: justifying that their use of force was appropriate and proving that the officer in question exceeded the responsibilities of the job or did something illegal if he endangered someone`s life. Proving both can be damn impossible in court. “You have to show A that what they`re doing is completely unreasonable, and B that your action in response to the sense of threat is reasonable in the situation,” Cahill said. Theoretically, there could be other isolated circumstances where self-defense against a police officer is legal, but they involve factual patterns that are so bizarre that they would almost never occur in real life or could almost never be proven in a way that the courts would believe. What if that person is a police officer? If someone breaks into your home without warning, is it legal to shoot that person if you don`t know it`s a police officer? Although the term “unlawful manner” in the Colorado Obstruction Act above is not defined in the law, the fact that you are not actually guilty of a crime is irrelevant. This is often the case and police officers are not omniscient. If the officer had no probable reason for arrest (which the person arrested or attacked often cannot know at this stage), the remedy is an after-the-fact prosecution for civil rights infringement, not self-defence.