for example …

The law is the warning.

~ vid & story ~

Okay, here’s a textbook case
(your State’s law may vary):
• “Castle doctrine” generally means that the law presumes that someone unlawfully entering or inside a home is a threat, so the resident does not have to show they feared felonious intent.
• The resident decides whether deadly force is necessary.
• The law does not require that the resident consider escaping (i.e. no “duty to retreat”).
• There is no requirement to issue a warning. (With witnesses around, however, it may be a good idea to do so.) “Warning shots” are generally illegal (besides, where do those slugs end up?).
Shut. the. heck. up. Make a full and honest statement to police, but only after you have a lawyer to help you avoid saying something inadvertent that will be used against you. Before then, say only something like, “I defended myself. I’ll be glad to make a full statement in the presence of my attorney.”
• Do. not. talk. to. the. press, to the perp’s family, or even to your own family (they might then be called as witnesses). Do not brag, do not embellish, do not alter the scene, and do not greet the police armed (they won’t know who’s who).
• You’ll be under severe emotional and psychological stress. Keep only supportive people around, and avoid anyone second-guessing your action. Seek professional counseling, if necessary.
(What? No, I’m not a lawyer, but I teach this stuff in the occasional NC CCH class. Take it for what it’s worth.)


  1. sluggo
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

    “You’ll be under severe emotional and psychological stress.”

    I’m fairly certain that I would sleep well that night knowing that I had protected my family and kept the scumbag from ever doing it again. But that’s just me.

  2. dick, not quite dead white guy
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

    “He could have used a warning,” Lakesha Thompson, Pipkins’ sister-in-law, said.
    Hey Lakesha, your worthless BIL could have rung the doorbell too.
    Get away from the old man’s home before he makes you a news item and bleaches the gene pool.

  3. dick, not quite dead white guy
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

    Oh, yeah. The moral is STFU, be polite, and wait for your lawyer. Very sage advice Doug, because in too many places, you could be a guilty until proven innocent victim.

  4. shoot to kill
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

    As my brother the cop says “Anytime he pulls the trigger its considered the use of deadly force.” You can’t simply shoot to warn or injure. “Its 2 in the chest, 1 in the head.”

    As a lawyer, a warning shot that kills an innocent bystander, would be considered murder, because its reckless.

    Good advice

  5. Dave
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:11 pm |

    No warning shots, ammunition is too expensive.

    And it’s name, rank and service number until you have an attorney.

  6. MikeG
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

    I always liked, “Due to the rising cost of ammunition, I cannot provide a warning shot.”

    Yes, we were taught the STFU strategery also. You get my name. Nothing else until my attorney arrives.

    Don’t shoot to kill, don’t shoot to wound, shoot to stop the threat. This is not to say just to spray bullets everywhere and see what happens. Just remember not to stop shooting just because you winged the guy and your hoping he will run off. If he is still moving forward and/or a threat, plug away until he is neither. Correct me if I am wrong, Doug, but if all you can see is the guy’s ass running away, you need to cease fire, yes?

  7. A Romp of Otters
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

    There’s a youtube lecture given by a defence attorney and a cop about how you can be screwed by talking to the cops even if you’re 100% honest and innocent. It’s fairly long but if you haven’t seen it yet it’s worth the time. It could save your life.

  8. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm |

    Sooo, I need to lose the “Stand at attention when you address me, Sgt” ?

  9. DougM (Progophobe)
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm |

    stk (4)
    I was told by the DoJ instructor that that merely pointing a firearm at someone can be considered “use of deadly force” (might be different for a LEO). Might even be considered assault if done outside a situation where deadly force is legit.

    MikeG (6)
    Generally, self defense does not include shooting to prevent escape as such, unless the threat still exists (e.g. the perp is still armed or heading for others, etc.); but if he’s truly gettin’ the heck out’a Dodge, the threat’s over, so you’re no longer defending yourself.
    (What? Hey, I didn’t write the law.)

  10. Fat Baxter
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

    Any advice on finding an attorney? I imagine just sticking a pin in the lawyers listings of the phone book (a mighty lengthy section in my area) won’t necessarily get a good one.

  11. PeggyU
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm |

    I hope the homeowner is black. Much less hassle for him that way.

  12. logdogsmith
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 6:05 am |

    “Will be referred to a grand jury to determine if he acted criminally in TRYING TO PROTECT HIS HOME”

    Emphasis MINE.

    STFU is ALWAYS a good policy, and one of the hardest things to become accustomed to. We tend to be social creatures and love to share with others. We like to try to help others understand, but in a world where our president argues what the definition of “is” is on national TV, anything you say can and will be twisted any way that suits whoever is twisting.

  13. staghounds
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 6:30 am |

    I actually am one of those evil, can’t-wait-to-convict-the-innocent prosecutors. FWIW-

    Never ever shoot through a door. What if it’s a fireman?

    Just because the law doesn’t require retreat does not mean it’s a bad idea. Retreat if you safely can. Killing someone outside combat is not good, ever. Shooting someone is, at the very best, a great big huge expensive worrisome pain in the a$s.

    Don’t shoot someone unless you have NO CHOICE.

    In a self defense situation, be very verbal. I mean L O U D. “STOP. GET BACK. I HAVE A GUN, STOP. GET OFF ME.” It may stop the attack or intrusion, in which case you win. The goal is not a good shooting, the goal is being safe.

    And in case you have to shoot, you never know who is listening or recording. You are the good guy, you want to create witnesses. Learn from George Zimmerman’s bad example.

    DO NOT alter the scene. If the criminal was armed, DO NOT touch his weapon, and try to keep the responding officers from doing so and removing prints and DNA. Be really clear. “Don’t touch his gun, please, officer. It may have his prints on it.” Say it to every officer that arrives, I have seen it happen more than once.

    Exception to the don’t talk rule- if the attacker escaped and/or had accomplices, immediately tell the police all you know about them, clothing, vehicle, etc. They might hurt someone else, and the police may catch them.

    Silence will probably get you arrested. Not convicted, but arrested and charged, because the police have nothing but corpse and killer. Don’t sweat it.

    You have a doctor and a mechanic, have a lawyer. Pay him or her $500 for a consultation and his or her cell number. Put it in your telephone with LAWYER as the name. (Get your will done, too. )

    Which one? I suggest one of the ones the PBA has on call to defend police officers. Odds are he/she is known to, and gets along with, the police, DA, and judges. Interview several until you find one YOU are comfortable with. He or she is YOUR EMPLOYEE, not your master.

    Definitely give a statement, you are a victim/witness after all. Wait at least 24 hours AND be sure you have slept since the incident. Speak during your own normal “awake hours”.

    TELL THE TRUTH. DO NOT GUESS. If you don’t remember, did not notice, or do not know, say so. I promise that you will make mistakes, do not be dogmatic. Memory and perception under stress go haywire.

    And despite what the inexperienced say, you WILL have stresses. Accept it, but know that those stresses degrade your memory and your ability to speak clearly and choose your words accurately. That’s why I say be sure you’ve slept before your statement. It may take a while, but even in jail, your body will give you a break with sleep eventually.

    Don’t shoot someone unless you have NO CHOICE.

  14. mojo
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 8:38 am |

    And remember: dead men don’t come back, and they don’t sue.

  15. JoeBandMember™
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 8:54 am |

    Good information here.

  16. geezerette
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:00 am |

    I assume nothing like this or anyone else has been killed with a gun has ever happened b/4 the push for gun control? If they have I don’t remember hearing about everyone of them on the news every day.

  17. DougM (Progophobe)
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:03 am |

    staghounds (13)
    Yep(1), yep(2), yep(3) … yep(i) … and yep(n).
    Dang! You just gave most of the salient points of a 30-min seminar block.
    I’m printin’ that out for students to read while I get a cuppa coffee and take a pee.

    (What? Well, the post, itself, was limited to a specific example. Over the years, here, we’ve pretty much covered the std. course.)

  18. JoeBandMember™
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:20 am |

    There should have been no soapbox for the family of the burglar. The reporter should have stuck to the facts concerning the incident.

    By interviewing the family members, the trial effectively began on TV.

    I would like to hear what our legally trained think about THAT.

  19. Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:50 am |

    It’s a shame you can’t sue the perp for all that emotional distress and recovery for the costs associated with your defense. He is the one who caused it all.

  20. logdogsmith
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:57 am |

    JBM #18 hit on something that has bothered me since I sprayed my last comment. The interview puts forth the idea that the victim did NOT warn the intruder, and the posts header statement “the law is the warning” perpetuates that idea by justifying not warning someone.

    For the intruders relative to have known that the victim did not warn him one of the following is true:

    1. She was close enough to the intruder to hear everything the intruder would have. This is doubtful as it would have made her an accessory or accomplice or sumsuch, and she probably would be in custody. More possibilities on this but it gets further from the razor.

    2. The victim told her. Can’t see the razor with Hubble. He was smart enough not to talk to the press, so he probably was not chatting up the intruders besties.

    3. The homeowner told the cops (certainly not on the cutting edge of the razor) and:
    a. The cops told her: Certainly not as part of protocol and not much time for it to have been leaked. Far from razor.
    b. She overheard the victim telling the cops: Not a good way for cops to conduct an interview. Far from razor.

    4. The press told her. Certainly in sight of the razor, but for the press to know, you would have to run the press through 2 and 3.

    4. Al Sharpton told her to say it: He wasn’t in any of the camera shots so no.

    5. She assumed the intruder was smart enough or wasn’t so confident in his own abilities/luck that he would retreat after the warning.

  21. Scott
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 10:07 am |

    Good advice. However, half of it won’t work in my state: Illinois; the People’s Republic of Chicago…

    No Concealed Carry.
    No Castle Doctrine.
    Firearms Owners Identification to even purchase ammunition…

  22. DougM (Progophobe)
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 10:11 am |

    ^ Since our resident we’re-not-busy-so-prosecute-everybody-and-let-the-juries-sort-’em-out* prosecutor brought it up, I’ll expand on my layman’s understanding of NC legal theory.
    • The post’s example was in the home. Outside the home (i.e. CCH), the considerations are different, even with castle doctrine laws in place.
    • It is generally unlawful to shoot at people, but “perfect self defense” is not a crime.
    • “Perfect self defense” requires four things (all four):
    1. Perception that an imminent threat exists of death, great bodily harm (i.e. permanent injury), or violent sexual assault. ["Imminent" rules out revenge and preempting future attacks: the threat must exist now. "Simple assault" is not a deadly attack (here's where lawyers earn their fees). "Threat of death, etc." rules out defense of property alone; but your non-deadly-force defense of property could lead to a deadly threat against you, in which case…]
    2. A normal person would agree with your perception, under the circumstances and based on what you knew at the time you acted (later info doesn’t count, e.g. the attacker’s gun turns out wasn’t real).
    3. You did not initiate the fight or voluntarily participate in it (i.e. you don’t get to shoot a guy who’s fighting back your attack on him).
    4. The use of deadly force was not “excessive” (e.g. you stopped shooting once the threat is ended — attacker disabled or fleeing — otherwise an intent to kill rather than to live might be in question).
    • Castle doctrine removes the “duty to retreat,” if you are lawfully entitled to be where you are attacked. Escape may well be the tactically sound move, however, if you don’t further endanger yourself or those you’re protecting. Usually is. Avoidance is even better.
    • Verbal warnings are not legally required, but it may be useful to have witnesses say they heard you warn ‘em. A warning may not be practical, however, since the threat is “imminent.”
    • Deadly force is a last resort, not a preferred option. Gunfighting involves deadly risk to yourself and to innocent bystanders.
    • See: wise vs legal

    (What? Yes, this will be on the test … but I won’t be the one givin’ it.)

    * ;)

  23. DougM (Progophobe)
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 10:28 am |

    logdogsmith (20)
    Excellent point (which I forgot to make, dammit!!!!).
    Personally, I think she was just making an emotional appeal. Geezus, a family member just got shot. He surely would’a left if warned, right?

    My response?
    Kripes! This jerk was a habitual criminal who knew it could happen.
    How much friggin’ warning did he need?!

    What? Home invasion is a sport between gentlemen?
    The perp committed an offsides foul, so the penalty should be a 15-yd head start?

    Hence, my use of this incident as an example.

  24. SteveHGraham
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:59 am |

    Jails are full of people who told the cops their side of the story.

  25. mojo
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

    More “What not to do”: Rolling gun battle in Vegas, Maserati in flames, 3 dead, cops looking for black SUV

  26. logdogsmith
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |


    It sucks how much we have to watch for “the narrative”.

    Staghounds #13: Can you define “combat”? Is capital punishment combat or not good, ever? I guess I would need you to define “killing” also.

  27. mojo
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

    Me, I’m a big believer in “Some people just need killing.”

    But I’m not crazy, so I don’t.

  28. rustbucket
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

    As to the how do you get a lawyer question:
    send me an email and I’ll tell you how to keep an entire Law Firm on retainer 24/7/365 for less than $30 a month…not ambulance-chasers, real, top notch, highly rated Law Firms.
    Not kidding.
    email me:

  29. Melissa In Texas
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm |

    As a resident of the great state of Texas…
    “the law is the warning”
    I keep tellin’ y’all that is very seldom that a legitimate defense of home and property claim here gets prosecuted.
    Yes, keep your mouth shut, but the law is the law and if the criminals, whether from stupidity or ignorance get shot..
    Hopefully, the property owner is a good shot so the criminal does not get the opportunity to make the same mistake twice!

    and God blessed Texas with lawmakers who “get it”.

  30. Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:42 am |

    Before then, say only something like, “I defended myself. I’ll be glad to make a full statement in the presence of my attorney.”

    Wrong. Massad Ayoob would give you the verbal bitchslapping of you life for that advice.

    You just admitted to possible manslaughter.

    Try this: Say fucking nothing, dammit. You only give the police info to catch a fleeing suspect. At most, describe the perp and what he did, and STFU.

    Don’t even admit you own the firearm. Hell, losing a pistol to the local PD is a damned cheap price to get out of a bogus manslaughter charge. As far as your lawyer is concerned, the state needs to prove the perp didn’t commit suicide with it.

  31. DougM (Progophobe)
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

    Kristophr ^
    Couldn’t disagree more … well, unless you actually committed a crime by shooting, but I don’t teach that part.
    Personally, I’d go with a good criminal lawyer rather than Ayoob.

    Look, you’re gonna be taken in for questioning and possible arrest. They’re gonna find out you took a shot and that you held the gun, among other things. Your goal is for the prosecutor or at least one person on a jury to buy your version of events.