A Useful Legal Analysis of Self-Defense with a Vehicle

Considering the Sage of Knoxville's recent suggestion to keep moving if surrounded in your car, Andrew Branca, a lawyer who specializes in self-defense law in the US, provides a quick analysis of how self-defense laws would be applied in the case of blocked highways and riots.

Here's a taste, but the whole thing is worth reading over at Legal Insurrection:

In short, one would apply the usual five elements of a self-defense justification to evaluate such a use of force against others, just as in any other instance of self-defense. Those elements are, of course:  innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance, and reasonableness. 
When all required elements are present, the use of force was legally justified. If any required element is missing, whatever that use of force might have been it was not lawful self-defense. 
One of the challenges to legally justifying the use of force against highway blockades is the element of imminence. Do people who are merely blocking a roadway represent an imminent threat against which some defensive force might be justified?  
A second challenge is the element of proportionality.  That is, if the force contemplated to be used against them is one’s vehicle, this will almost always constitute deadly force–that is, force capable of causing death or grave bodily injury.   Deadly force can be used in self-defense only [when] the force with which you are threatened also constitutes deadly force.


Texan99 said...

I can imagine being forced to use my car against a human being in a deadly riot where there was no other way out. It's hard to imagine running down someone because I thought they weren't entitled to block a highway. That sounds like a job for a police force with some self-respect and good sense, guided by a local government with some self-respect and good sense.

Tom said...

That sounds reasonable, Tex. Are you thinking about the proposed law at the end of the article?

Grim said...

The ability to distinguish between these protests and a riot is an important question. A line of well-ordered protesters is one thing. A mob surrounding your cars and shouting, or beating on them, looks like it's time to move -- and they'd better get out of the way.

J Melcher said...

It's interesting that Professor Reynolds has for years expressed a recommendation that public officials who have offended his policy preferences should be tarred and feathered -- without push back. Is it that tar and feathers are understood to be less-than-lethal?

Grim said...

I would have said that he expressed a desire to see public officials tarred and feathered if they abused their power, rather than "offended his policy preferences." The process can be lethal, though, if the tar is too hot when applied.

Then again, we have enough corrupt officials that it may be we could possibly spare one or two if it came to it.

Tom said...

I think his encouragement to tar and feather members of our tyrant class for abuses is assumed to be rhetorical hyperbole.