Last night I drove for two hours to attend a class held by Colorado Handgun Safety entitled, "The Legal Aftermath of Defensive Shooting" taught by a defense attorney, concealed handgun permit holder and former attorney with the US Army. Those of you who follow the Elsie Pea Forum (elsiepeaforum.com) will have already seen some of what follows.
Know the Law in Your State
This means that you should strive to absolutely understand the statutes in your state that pertain to what one might be charged with after a defensive shooting. Charged with does not mean convicted of, or that charges cannot be dropped or defended against, but be aware that serious charges can be brought, regardless of their outcome before or in court.
Why is that important? Castle doctrine, or similar statute, might protect you from consequences more than self defense will.
Know What Not to Do Afterwards
This is important. If you are involved in a self-defense shooting, the ONLY thing you should say to the police, a prosecutor, an EMT - anyone at the scene or later - is:
Because you may say something that will FOREVER REMOVE your right to using self defense in court. At the scene, these scenarios may play out:
Police: "That's ok. I know you are upset and you didn't mean to shoot him."
Police: "You've been through a stressful experience. I know it was an accident and you didn't want to hurt anyone."
Unless you are an experienced defense lawyer, you don't know the law, especially the finer points like maintaining your ability to exercise your right of self defense in court, so repeat after me: "My name is (insert name here). I am a victim. I will fully cooperate once I have spoken with my attorney." Then, shut up. Period. Don't talk to anyone else, regardless of how sympathetic or helpful they are. Don't blab to yourself in the back of the police car - every police car these days has a tape recorder going. Shut up. Get a lawyer and listen to what he or she tells you.
Ask for your attorney, right up front. The questions should stop. If they don't tell them you want your attorney.
Win The Race
Do Not Be Negligent With Your Gun
"My name is (insert name here). I am a victim. I will fully cooperate once I have spoken with my attorney."