Responding to Threats: Level Seven

In the last part of our series we looked at Threat Level Six which is where someone intends to cause you or someone else Serious Bodily Harm. If you haven’t read that article yet, please click here to read.

Let’s move now to Threat Level Seven.

[Because of Covid 19 restrictions, we are not able to record an instructional video in this part of the series.]

[Podcast version available at the end of this post.]

Threat Level Seven is where one or more people use extreme violence with intent to kill you and/or another person. They may use weapons in their attack (e.g. gun, knife, hammer, axe).

Response Level Seven is where we use the strongest force necessary, up to and including lethal force.

Legal Considerations

Our response should be in proportion to the action (justified response):

“Deadly force means that force which a reasonable person would consider likely to cause death or serious bodily harm. Wex Legal Dictionary, Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School

What can you do legally if someone tries to kill you? You can defend yourself up to and including the use of deadly force –

“… only under conditions of extreme necessity, when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed.” Wex Legal Dictionary, Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School

I’ve taught martial arts and self defense in Alabama for many years, so I’ll use that state’s law concerning deadly force defense as an example –

Ala. Code 1975, § 13A-3-23

A person may use deadly physical force and is legally presumed to be justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person pursuant to section (5), if the person reasonably believes that another person is:

  1. (1)  Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force;
  2. (2)  Using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling;
  3. (3)  Committing or about to commit: [Read appropriate part]
    1. (a)  Kidnapping in any degree;
    2. (b)  Assault in the first or second degree;
    3. (c)  Burglary in any degree;
    4. (d)  Robbery in any degree;
    5. (e)  Forcible rape; (OR)
    6. (f)  Forcible sodomy;
  4. (4)  Using or about to use physical force against an owner, employee, or other person authorized to be on business property when the business is closed to the public, while committing or attempting to commit a crime involving death, serious physical injury, robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, or a crime of a sexual nature involving a child under the age of 12; (OR)
  5. (5)  In the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or has unlawfully and forcefully entered, a dwelling, residence, business property, or occupied vehicle, or federally licensed nuclear power facility, or is in the process of sabotaging or attempting to sabotage a federally licensed nuclear power facility, or is attempting to remove, or has forcefully removed, a person against his/her will from any dwelling, residence, business property, or occupied vehicle when the person has a legal right to be there, and provided that the person using deadly physical force knows or has reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act is occurring.

Deadly physical force is force that, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. [13A-3-20(2)]

A reasonable belief is a belief formed in reliance upon reasonable appearances. It is a belief not formed recklessly or negligently. The test of reasonableness is not whether the defendant was correct in his/her belief but whether the belief was reasonable under the circumstances existing at the time. (Code Commentary)

[You can look up what your state requires you to do in the first part of our series.]

Personal Considerations

You have the right to defend yourself. If someone attacks you with lethal force, you can use self-defense techniques up to and including lethal response. Karate, Jujutsu and Kung Fu techniques work well in many cases as do gun and other weapon defenses.

If you do kill someone in self defense, call police to report the attack. You may also want to call an attorney. You may or may not be charged by police, so it’s good to have legal advice from the beginning.

[Be sure to learn everything you can about your legal rights in the state where you live and where you may travel to and through.]

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