Before you get too deep into reading, everyone should spend 48 minutes and watch >this video< that explains why you should never talk to the police regarding the intricate details following your use of deadly force or you threatening the use of deadly force to defend yourself.

After the use of deadly force or threatening the use of deadly force:

  1. Be the first to call 911 to report what happened. It is generally believed that the first person to call 911 gets to play the victim. Do not rely on others to call 911 for you; call yourself so your call is documented (recorded) and to ensure facts are clear. Provide only minimal information (see excited utterance and here). When talking to the 911 operator, you are essentially talking to the police and some or all of the recording will or can be made public, or at a minimum, played for the jury in court which may or may not hurt your defense case if prosecuted.
  2. When the police arrive

  • My name is [your name] and I live at [your address]
  • I was attacked [by that person / person that ran away]
  • There is the evidence [point to anything the police may have missed or did not realize was a weapon]
  • That person / those people are witnesses
  • I have spoken to / left message with my attorney, and I am going to wait until [he / she] arrives to give a statement and sign a complaint
  • NOTE: As the police arrive you should have or be in the process of holstering your firearm and keeping both hands in front of you and fully visible to arriving law enforcement. This is for your safety and theirs
Marty Hayes J.D. ... comments on "Making Statements": Part One and Part Two

A claim of self-defense is an affirmative defense (reserved for intentional acts i.e. not an accident), meaning that you are admitting that you in fact killed someone or threatened to use deadly force against someone but that you had a legal justification for doing so and thus you claim to be exempt from prosecution. A claim of self-defense requires that the victim (you) present compelling evidence to the legal system that supports the justification surrounding your actions. The evidence you are required to present will differ depending on the state your actions took place in (each state has different laws regarding self-defense). If the legal system does not agree with the evidence you have presented, you will be arrested and you will be prosecuted in a court of law.

In general, if you are being questioned by law enforcement, you are probably a suspect in a crime or the officer is attempting to discern as to whether or not a crime has been committed. Nothing you say to the police can be used to help you. NOBODY has ever talked their way out of being arrested! Everything you say to the police can be used against you. Law enforcement can even lie to you to get information from you and even "promise" you that you are not a suspect, that you will not be arrested or that you will not be prosecuted. Law enforcement can even confront you with false physical evidence in an attempt to coerce you into incriminating yourself or at a minimum, get you to implicate yourself (to some degree) in whatever it is that the police are investigating. The leading case regarding police "trickery and deceit" is Frazier v. Cupp. Law enforcement officers are also specially trained to conduct interrogations and can go to great lengths to extract a confession and in some cases, extract a false confession. False confessions are frequently the result of over zealous police officers, or law enforcement being under great political pressure to solve a crime. These types of confessions (false confessions) can be the result of wearing-down a suspect through extended interrogations (~30 or ~50 hours straight), to the point of delirium where the suspect will say anything in order to sleep. Another tactic law enforcement can use in the interrogation process is their ability to twist statements and facts to the point where a person in a weakened state may actually come to believe that they, the suspect, did do what the police allege, when in fact, it is all a fabrication made by law enforcement in order to obtain a confession. This type of tactic is akin to brainwashing. As incredible as it sounds, it happens. Aside from the police interrogation, in some cases, the prosecution itself is down-right-malicious.

It is often said by "law abiding" citizens that, "I am not a criminal and I do not break the law and therefore I have nothing to fear from talking to law enforcement". This is actually a very naive way of thinking because no one can ever say for sure where questions and our answers will lead a prosecutors desire to prosecute. We all commit crimes nearly every day and do not even know (most of the time) that we are e.g. speeding, jaywalking, spitting on the sidewalk, carrying a pocket knife with a blade length greater than 3.5 inches, etc... The book: One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty by Rosenzwieg and Walsh helps to illustrate just how convoluted our legal structure is with regard to the tens-of-thousands of federal statutes, federal CFRs, the tax code, state laws and local ordinances; citizens cannot possibly keep up with all the laws and regulations in order to be "law abiding" yet we are told that "ignorance of the law is no excuse". Moreover, it has even been said that the federal government itself doesn't even know for sure how many laws and regulations are on the books. A book review by the Washington Times on the book previously mentioned, provides an excellent example of just how screwed-up and out of control things really are here in the United States.

The reasons why we should not talk to the police without an attorney are many as illustrated above. Conversations with your attorney are privileged and generally cannot be disclosed to law enforcement. This is not the case when discussing matters with friends or family. When your freedom is potentially at stake, talk to no one but your attorney. You should provide the same instruction to your spouse and your children.

Curious about how officer involved shootings are handled by law enforcement? This >> document << suggests similar guidelines as discussed above with regard to removing the officer from the scene, offering support and providing a means for the officer to have "privileged" conversations (by getting the officer an attorney). What is good for the police is probably good for the private citizen as well.

Key points to remember:
  1. Miranda rights are almost meaningless. Just assume that anything you say before or after receiving your Miranda warning will be used against you in some way, form or fashion. (Miranda and exigency)
  2. Conversations with police need to be kept at a very high-level. State only what is obvious. No details regarding your actions
  3. State your willingness to cooperate but that you demand that your attorney be present during all discussions and that you do not consent to a search of person, property or effects
  4. Repeat your demand for an attorney and non-consent to search to every officer that questions you. Doing so "should" stop any interrogation and aggressive pressure from the police, although there are no guarantees. Do not be intimidated but do maintain a basic level of respect. Cops are people too, the majority are honest and hardworking and just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. With that said, they also work for the prosecutor. Their job is not to "protect and serve" you!

Assertion of Your Rights (Re: 4th, 5th & 6th Amendments to the US Constitution):

Following recent US Supreme Court and lower appeals court rulings, a person must assert their rights verbally and the assertion must be a confident and forceful statement of fact or belief. For example, courts have found that making the following statement to law enforcement, "I think I need to speak to an attorney" is in fact NOT a demand to have an attorney present during questioning. An example of properly asserting your rights would include, "I demand to see an attorney and I do not consent to search." This statement invokes your 4th and 6th amendment rights.

What about the 5th amendment? The 5th amendment covers your right to remain silent. It is no longer advised to verbally invoke your right to remain silent. Instead, continue to demand to speak with an attorney.

The reason for this is due to the fact that the courts have now decided that invoking your right to remain silent is prima facie evidence of guilt AND the fact that you invoked your right to remain silent is now admissible in court as evidence against you (US Supreme Court: Salinas v. Texas).

Invoking your 6th amendment right, should stop the interrogation (no more Q&A with the police) and when your attorney arrives, he or she will invoke your right to remain silent on your behalf. If this becomes known to your jury, it will be better coming from your attorney as opposed to you making the decision yourself.

The details regarding this revelation can be read in the excellent book titled "You have the right to remain innocent" by law professor James Duane.

In closing, after a self-defense shooting, you will need to give basic information to law enforcement such as identifying yourself, claiming your actions were self-defense and pointing out any evidence at the scene as well as witnesses. After this, demand to see an attorney.

Note: Never physically resist police action (even touching a police officer can result in 4th degree assault charges in Minnesota or 3rd degree felony charges in Texas). Doing so will likely result in additional charges and or personal injury.