Self Defense Law 4: Avoidance

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Thus far we have covered three of the five elements of self-defense;  Innocence, Imminence and Proportionality.  This article is about a 4th element known as “Avoidance.”  It is really common sense to a degree, it makes sense to avoid shooting an aggressor, or risk getting shot if you can avoid the confrontation and call the police instead.  There are thirteen jurisdictions that require (to some extent) you to retreat from an attack if you can do so safely.  Thirty seven jurisdictions do not require you to retreat as long as you have a legal right to be there and you are not engaged in illegal activity.  In Oklahoma, you may use deadly force to defend yourself or other innocent persons if you are in fear for your life, and you are convinced the use of your gun is the only option to stop the deadly force threat.  In that scenario, you have no duty to retreat, but if you could have done so safely and failed to do so, expect the prosecuting attorney to question your reasoning.  Analyzing a “deadly force” event in a courtroom minus the adrenaline, fear and stress you felt during the event is hardly an “apples to apples” comparison.  A comfortable jury might easily be manipulated by an overzealous prosecutor.  It is crucial for us who carry a firearm to know the law, and keep a cool head to the extent that is possible, and when necessary seek competent legal counsel.  If you can do so safely, avoid the threat.  Remember, success favors the trained mind and body.

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