Self Defence And The Law

I know that violence is not the answer and it took me hundreds of fights to suss this out (I’m a slow learner) but knowing doesn’t help me when some ‘vegetable’ wants to bite my nose off and spit it down my throat. We established in the last issue that, at this point in the juncture, your only realistic chance of survival is to pre-emptively attack the attacker. But what happens if you do manage to resist assault only to find yourself on the wrong end of a ‘steel bracelet’? Handcuffed to an unsympathetic judicial system and having to fight again, only this time for your liberty.

It may be there to protect us but in cases of self defence the law can be the second enemy.

Having spent a few nights in the four-greys myself I feel duty bound to warn you of the inherent dangers of having a fight. Whether it’s a bar room brawl between tracks at the MOS or a dogfight between the cat’s eyes on the M1 there may be a legal consequence to your actions and five seconds toe-to-toe in the curry-house could earn you five long years in the big house.

Many of my friends are in prison now because they didn’t understand the law. Here are a few tips that might spare you the ‘ale-house, court- house, big-house’ debacle: 1) Don’t be there. Hit and run.

If you have to defend yourself don’t hang around for legal (or other) repercussions. Attack victims (especially those who successfully defended themselves) often feel obliged to hang around. Don’t be a spanner. Once you’ve done the dirty deed make like Houdini and vanish. It is your life and liberty we’re talking about here so stay at your own peril. Me? I’m already back at the pub with ten witnesses that’ll swear I was there all night. 2) Say nothing without legal representation.

If things go like the Pear and the law gets you in its slippery grip remember, ‘people are convicted for what they say and not what they do’.

So say nothing or be very careful about the words that do leave, or are prised from, your lips. In court you’ll be fine-tooth-combed by lawyers honed in the art of ‘raping’ statement inaccuracies if you say the wrong things, even if you were morally in the right, you can kiss your ass goodbye. One of my mates battered a psycopath who tried digging out his eyeballs with a sharpened dessert spoon. You admitted in your statement that you kicked my client, Mr Head-the-Ball, while he was on the floor. Why did you do this?, the prosecutor asked. Well, my mate replied, rather naively. You don’t let the fs back up again, do you? He did five.

If I kick someone when they’re on the floor it’s because they’re trying to get back up and attack me again and I’m in fear of my life. Enough said. 3) Use reasonable force.

This can mean anything from restrain to unconsciousness, even death. If you honestly believe that hitting someone over the swede with a spade is what is needed to stop him from using your head like a football then that would be construed as reasonable force. You’d no doubt have to defend your interpretation in court but the truth remains that ‘reasonable in the circumstances’ is dictated by you. So when you make your statement make sure that you stipulate that your force was reasonable and that you only attacked because you were in fear of being attacked. If there is no fear of assault then there should be no physical conflict. 4) Ask for a solicitor.

After a fight or an attack you’ll probably be suffering from what is known as adrenal-induced Tachypsychia. This causes you to experience time distortion, time loss, memory distortion and memory loss. You may also feel the innate urge to ‘talk’, if only to justify your actions. This condition affects your ability to make an objective statement. Six months down the line when you end up in court, everything will be balanced on what you have said.

So, if you are arrested keep quiet unless you’re clear about your rights. If you’re not, keep your mouth shut and insist on seeing a solicitor.

Say nothing, sign nothing. A police cell can be a very lonely place if you’re not used to it. And the police can often be guilty of rushing, even pressuring you for a quick statement. This pressure can be very subtle. Being left alone for long periods of time, told that you might be sent to prison, even the ‘good cop-bad cop’ routine (yes, honestly). Many a hardy guy has turned from hard to lard after a few hours surrounded by the four greys. Under these circumstances it’s very easy to say things you really don’t want to say, even things that aren’t true just so that you can go home.

It’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six so, if physical defence is your choice, and you have honest belief that you are about to be attacked, attack first and claim self defence. You might end up in a police cell, even a court of law, but it’s got to be better than an epitaph and a mention in the local obituaries.

Geoff’s books are available through all good book shops or visit Geoff’s web page

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