You’ve had to defend yourself and your family. You think the threat is over. Think again. Potentially, this is just the start of your troubles because the wheels of the justice system have begun turning. And if you don’t know the ins and outs of the legal system, this monolithic machine can easily crush you. This is why you need to understand The Law of Self Defense.
Given that you’ve always thought of yourself as one of the “good guys” it can come as a shock to find yourself disarmed, handcuffed, and dumped in the back of a cruiser. Your new title is now “suspect.” Congratulations. That guy you stopped when he tried to take your life? In the eyes of the law he’s the “victim.”
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The officers responding to the scene are not there to be your friend and provide solace after a harrowing experience. They are there to determine if what happened was a crime, and find the bad guy.
The people tasked with prosecuting you also don’t know you. Your file is just one of many hundreds that come across their desk. They will not consider what is in your best interest. They will prosecute you if they think your case is vulnerable. Period. That’s their job.
The judge knows nothing of you personally either. If the prosecution successfully indicts (and, as the author Tom Wolfe so famously put it, a decent prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted), then expect to go to trial, spend several hundred thousand dollars in the process, and burn through months to years of your life. All the while with a possible murder conviction hanging over your head and your entire future in doubt.
And then there’s the jury. The jurors will know less about your case, even at the trial’s conclusion, than nearly everybody else involved. The process carefully controls what facts are presented to them. There is a great deal of information known to you, and to the lawyers, and the judge, and the general public for that matter, that the jury will never hear before they render a verdict.
Now, all those treacherous legal waters I just described still assume that everyone is fair and impartial. That is not always the case. A “good bust” can get a cop a promotion; a large investigation can make a detective the Chief. Prosecutors routinely use their position to advance to political office, and those that are elected are politicians already. What better way is there to get favorable press coverage, and lots of it, than to take a big case involving violence? So what if the evidence is a bit wishy-washy around the edges? Even the judge, accustomed to dealing only with local matters, may enjoy that sweet, sweet, 15-minutes of national attention more than you find comfortable.
The bottom line is that we shouldn’t prepare ourselves for what the criminal justice system might do if favorably disposed to us. We owe it to ourselves and our families to prepare for the worst.