The second edition of The Law Of Self-Defense: The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen by attorney Andrew F. Branca is an excellent book for anyone who is prepared to defend themselves. I agree with the author 100% when he says that besides taking steps to protect yourself and your family, you need to know how to survive the critical fight that looms after any defensive encounter: the legal battle. This book will help you prepare for just that, the legalities involved if you must defend yourself.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions when it comes to the legal aspects of self-defense. I saw this first hand when I was prosecuting and defendants would claim self-defense and then be found guilty because they didn’t meet the legal elements for a justified use of force, or self-defense, claim.
In this book, Branca exposes the myths regarding self-defense and provides the law and how courts have applied it. Armed with this knowledge, along with your self-defense training and weapons, you will be able to make effective decisions regarding your and your loved one’s safety. You must be able to deal with situations both tactically and legally.
The first chapter provides a short overview of criminal law and what to expect if you find yourself in the quagmire of our justice system. Branca covers things such as standards of proof, burdens of proof, and crimes that can be charged among other things. The next five chapters are devoted to five important principles that will be looked at with a self-defense claim. These are: Innocence, Imminence, Proportionality, Avoidance, and Reasonableness. It would behoove everyone to have a general understanding of these before they ever need to.
The next chapter covers the law as it applies to the defense of others, and then there is a chapter on the legal defense of property. The ninth chapter deals with issues after the fact, such as consciousness of guilt, consciousness of innocence, and your attacker’s reputation. The final chapter focuses on crafting a legally sound strategy by keeping out of trouble, minimizing your legal exposure, and making sound decisions under stress among other topics.
Everything in the book is accompanied by case law to illustrate how courts in various jurisdictions have applied different laws related to self-defense. Many of the laws are categorized by state, so you can look up your jurisdiction’s statutes. Obviously these can change, so the author provides resources where you can go on-line to find the most up to date research on statutes and case law.
I think anyone studying armed or unarmed self-defense should also study the law of self-defense. And if you instruct in this area, it is a must. Andrew Branca has written a valuable resource that covers a critical element of defending oneself: the law. Highly recommended, especially to self-defense and defensive shooting instructors.
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