PUBLISHED BY THE LAW OFFICES OF BRUCE COLODNY
By Bruce Colodny, The California Gun Attorney
Revised & Copyright © 2016
WHEN CAN I USE A FIREARM FOR SELF-DEFENSE IN CALIFORNIA?
The simple answer is in a situation where a reasonable person has a reasonable fear they or another person are about to suffer death or great bodily harm.• The decision to use deadly force, even to merely expose your firearm, is extremely important.• If your decision is wrong, you may end up dead, gravely injured, a criminal defendant and be sued for money damages. Be certain that you need to shoot, yet at the same time protect yourself; if you can safely resolve the situation without introducing a firearm, do it.
WHAT IF i ACTUALLY HAVE TO SHOOT SOMEONE IN SELF-DEFENSE?
Don't panic, remain calm.• If no else calls 911, you may call and say something to the effect of, "There's been a shooting at (address).• Send an ambulance."• Give the 911 operator your physical description, tell them what you are wearing and where you will be when the police arrive.• Ask for the ambulance even if you are certain the perpetrator is dead.• Remember all 911 calls are recorded and don't say anything that you would not want to be played for a jury. Then call our office. When the police arrive, it is usually best to say only "I am invoking my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and I want to speak with an attorney." Remember that you will be upset, extremely vulnerable, both emotionally and legally, and, the spoken word is like toothpaste; once it comes out, it doesn't go back in.
WILL MY SELF-DEFENSE USE OF FIREARMS RESULT IN CRIMINAL CHARGES?
It depends on the facts and circumstances of the incident.• If the investigating officers feel that your self-defense use of firearms may have been unlawful, you will likely be arrested and the police will submit their report to the District Attorney for review.• You may then be charged with violations ranging from misdemeanor brandishing a firearm to felony homicide.• Also, there have been criminal prosecutions in California where the defendant lawfully used a firearm for self-defense but was then charged with carrying without a CCW license.
WILL I BE SUED IF I USE A FIREARM IN SELF-DEFENSE?
If you shoot injuring or killing someone, it is likely that you will be sued either by the criminal if he survives or by their family if they die.• If you have homeowners or renters insurance, be aware that your insurance company may try to avoid their obligation to defend you and pay money damages awarded against you by relying on the policy exclusions for criminal acts.• If you shoot someone in self-defense, you should immediately consult our law office in the event that you need to be defended against criminal charges and/or you may need an attorney to defend you against a civil lawsuit seeking money damages from you.
IS THERE A SPECIAL LAW THAT APPLIES IF I SHOOT AN INTRUDER IN MY RESIDENCE?
California Penal Code § 198.5 Presumption in favor of one who uses deadly force against intruder – "Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.• As used in this section, great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury."
IMPORTANT NOTE: Penal Code § 198.5 is a rebuttable presumption.• For example, if the non-household member intruder surrenders, turns around and then you shoot him in the back, expect the prosecuting attorney to offer evidence to rebut the initial presumption that your use of deadly force was lawful and reasonable.
This article is general information; it is not legal advice. The information contained within, is subject to change as a result of future court decisions and/or new legislation.
If you have questions concerning a specific item or your personal situation, you should consult
The Law Offices of Bruce Colodny 800-560-8000.