Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Michigan CCW Class: It's A Bad Idea To Chase Criminals

Recently, there have been a couple of cases in Detroit, Michigan whereby citizens with a state of Michigan issued Concealed Pistol Licenses (CCW/CPL) decided to chase after a criminal after he had left the scene. In both scenarios, the outcomes were disastrous. This article will explore both cases and provide reasons why it is not a good idea to chase bad guys.

A CPL Is Not A James Bond 007 License

First, a CPL merely authorizes a designated person to carry a concealed pistol on or about his person. Since Michigan recognizes a citizen's right to self-defense, a concealed pistol provides an effective means of establishing a defense from an attack while avoiding the awkward looks one can acquire from onlookers if he was open-carrying, which is legal without a license in Michigan.

A CPL does not give its possessor any special privileges with respect to the usage of lethal force. In Michigan, lethal force is only authorized under a narrow band of circumstances. In general, lethal force is authorized for individual if that person:
is somewhere he has a legal right to be, is not in the commission of a crime, and has both a reasonable and honest belief that he is in imminent jeopardy of severe bodily harm, sexual assault, or death.

Why It's A Bad Idea To Chase Bad Guys

The usage of lethal force outside of the aforementioned parameters may result in the user of that lethal force being found guilty of a crime, imprisoned, fined, and being found responsible in a civil lawsuit.

Thus, if a bad guy has already left the scene - before he had a chance to commit a crime or immediately after he has already committed a crime - there is probably a pretty good chance that he is no longer a threat to anyone. Usage of lethal force at this point in time will probably not be viewed as lawful by the state of Michigan.

Furthermore, the chasing of a criminal is potentially problematic. If the criminal is caught, the chaser may have the unenviable position of deciding what to do next, like the dog that finally "caught" a car at a traffic signal. Any mistakes or miscues done at this point could result with the "victim" being charged as a criminal.

Case Study 1:
Late last year, it was reported in the media that an east-side Detroit resident, whose home had been reportedly burglarized three times within a short time period, came home to find two men attempting to break into his home.

The resident, a CPL-holder, gave chase to one of the fleeing men. According to testimony provided by local police officers, the resident admitted that he caught up with the fleeing criminal who stopped, turned around, and challenged the CPL-holder to shoot him. According to testimony also reported in the media, the CPL-holder then shot the man who died.

The CPL-holder has been charged with 2nd-Degree Murder and Felony Firearm and is currently awaiting trial.

Case Study 2
Last week an elderly Detroit man, who has a CPL, was accosted by a 19 year-old criminal with a fake gun who led him into the basement of a home where he was robbed of his wallet, car keys, and cell phone.

Sometime shortly after the robber left, the CPL-holder emerged from the dwelling with a handgun and shot at the robber who then crashed the victim's vehicle into a tree. The robber bailed from the vehicle and ran down the street, as the CPL-holder fired another shot. That last shot missed and struck another person who died.

Both the CPL-holder and the robber were arrested. The robber has been charged with felony murder via transferred intent even though he didn't shoot the decedent and the CPL-holder remains in custody as authorities try to decide what to charge him with.

Bottom Line:

An alert, trained, and armed CPL-holder is certainly able to lawfully defend himself with lethal force while he is under an imminent threat of an attack. However, if the mere presence of the victim causes the criminal to flee or the criminal was able to successfully attack his victim and leave the scene, it is not a good idea for a victim to later chase after a fleeing criminal.

At this point, it becomes more difficult to justify the usage of lethal force should the victim catch up to his assailant. A miscue can lead to criminal charges being filed against the chaser. In the two cases cited in this article, both CPL-holders would not be facing criminal charges had they not chased the fleeing criminals. So, the job of chasing of criminals should be left to the police.

Individuals who wish to avoid being victims, should always be aware of their surroundings, carry their firearm at every legal opportunity, and do not hesitate to use it when needed to defend their lives under the threat of an imminent attack.
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