November 04, 2004

Curious George: Mortal Kombat? When does a situation warrent (legally) self defence?

A man, furious with myself and my fiance, confronted us as we exited our car. The first thing he did was get chest to chest with me and push while very loudly discussing our problem. The situation pretty much stayed in that phase, with him pushing me and me just standing there telling him to leave (although I was not very kind about it). It escalated when he tried to do the same thing to my fiance and I was forced to get between them and push him away. He threatened to maim or kill me. What can I legally do in that sort of situation? Can I restrain him until the police arrive? Deck him early to avoid a fight? Do I just have to stand there and take it? Does it make a difference that I am trying to protect someone else?

  • Get a lawyer ASAP and sue the motherfucker.
  • loto!!! now what did you do to provoke that poor, poor man, eh? ;-)
  • He touches you, it's assault.
  • AFAIK, If he's making verbal threats and shoving, you're within your rights to defend yourself, within reason; like, shooting him if he's unarmed wouldn't be reasonable, but physically restraining him would be. He's basically assaulted you already, so legally you can restrain him until police arrive.
  • if you can't walk away (you said you were exiting your car), and he keeps getting in your face (and your fiance's) in a threatening manner, you should deck him.
  • From a safety standpoint, I don't think it's wise to attempt to restrain someone on the verge of attacking you.
  • It depends on where you are legally. But in New Zealand, you're allowed reasonable force. Based on what you're describing, I'd imagine you'd be well within your rights to, eg, pin him in an armlock. He'd also be liable for assault, threatening behaviour, and possibly a few other charges if the local plods felt mean.
  • In North Carolina, he has committed Assault (Class 3 misdemeanor) and Communicating Threats (Class 1 misdemeanor). You would have been able to assert self-defense had you pushed him back. If you would have punched first, then you might have a problem. These cases are generally races to the Magistrate's Office. Whoever gets there first and swears out a warrant is in much better shape in court. koko is right that any physical response must be reasonable in measure. Good luck restraining him until the police get there. If you know his name, then you should go swear out a warrant against him. And, as an aside, if you were paying attention to the beginning of my comment, then you would have noticed that it is a more serious crime in North Carolina to tell someone that you are going to punch him in the nose than it actually is to punch him in the nose. I am not even remotely making that up.
  • Actually, shooting him if he's unarmed could [vague handwave] be reasonable if 1) without your firearm, a disparity of force would exist between you two, and 2) the opportunity for death, grievous-bodily-harm, or arson exists; and 3) you believe that death, grievous-bodily-harm, or arson will take place without your own violent intervention. That is, if loto is 5'5" and the perp is 6'0", and the perp is within grappling distance and obviously intending GBH, it probably won't make it past the grand jury. Or even to the grand jury. Depends on principality, of course. My actual response would depend on whether I had a witness. Fiancee is good, but bystander is better. And if I could flee the encounter, I would, macho pride and money in the meter be damned. It's so much easier to find another parking space and put another $2 in a meter than to deal with the police.
  • The simplest thing to do in that scenario is to get back into your car and drive away. Don't bother to make sure he's clear, just back out. If you "accidentally" run him over, then tell the cops that the big, bad, scary man was threatening you and your fiance, and you panicked as you were trying to leave and your foot accidentally hit the gas pedal. As long as you don't kill him, you'll be fine. Broken leg in my case...
  • Don't punch until punched, just in case it sees the inside of a courtroom. My general philosophy is that I'll do just about anything to avoid fighting you, but if you force my hand, then you've effectively handed me your rights. At that point, gloves are off. Anything of yours gets permanently damaged, it's your own fault. But I'm not afraid to back down. I'd rather look stupid than have to deal with violence.
  • Kill his dog.
  • I recently saw a confrontation like this take place on a bus. It went as follows: Aggressor: "Fuck you, blah blah" *more insults for no reason* Dude sitting next to me: "What the hell, go away" Aggressor: "I'll fucking kick your ass you fucking pansy motherfucker" Dude: "Yeah, well, I'll pee in your butt." Aggressor: "..." And the situtation pretty much ended.
  • Get a lawyer ASAP and sue the motherfucker. It really bothers me that this is the first piece of advice. Nothing personal fuyugare. I don't know if it's my feelings about how overly-litigious our society has become, or my lust for seeing people who deserve it, get socked. It's good that you're more levelheaded than me. I may have remained calm when the man threatened me, but if he went near my girl I would've done something I would NOT have regretted. I know we've all heard the horror stories of bullies using the legal system against us when they get their comeuppance, but I think it's reasonable to expect the authorities to side with you. Er. Wait. Authorities? Reason? Hm. On second thought, kick his ass and get the hell out of there before he gets your license plate number.
  • This is why cops carry drop weapons. You should too.
  • Well, now that my test is over here is the rest of the story. The reason I got out of the car was to move a cart so we could park. First thing I thought to do was just get into the store, but unfortunately I was surrounded by one of those cart-storage contraptions. My fiance's car was directly infront of me, as was the man. After the confrontation died down (a friendly fellow, who happens to be a retired cop, called the police just before I threatened to call the cops.) The man left soon after (15 seconds tops) and the cops arrived about 15 seconds after that. I gave the cops my statement, his license plate number (he blocked our car in) description, all that fun stuff. So, the cops are looking for him and I did agree to press charges. I started to get confused when the cop said that they could only charge him for disorderly conduct. SideDish: This was a cut and dry case of road rage. Apparently driving for 100 yards with a turn signal on and then pulling in front of him is considered cutting him off. He flipped and followed us into the parking lot of a store. Ian would say: I told him he wasn't angry at me, but at his father. He just ignored it :P Daniel: Almost slugged the jerk as soon as he got near her, but she gets upset when I punch people :P It was easier to just push him away than have her argue I should have been more calm.
  • You have to be very careful about how you defend yourself, even if it is warranted. If this happened in New York state, you could punch him. But if you hit him with your elbow, that would count as assault with a deadly weapon, which is only warranted if he's threatening you with deadly force and you can't run. ian: your story reminds me of this
  • Jimbecile beat me to it, damn it. 'Cept you can't hotlink to elements in the Space Moose archive. Go here, then choose Smash your ugly face in.
  • Er, isn't this a hotlink to that cartoon?
  • If it's already in your cache, your this will work. If it isn't, you'll get their application/octet-stream/go-fuck-yourself image. At least, that's how it works for me. God forbid that I be wrong.
  • Yeah, I must have gotten it out of the cache. Sorry, it looked just like a real link.
  • Funny, I just emptied my cache and tried it again. It worked.
  • You know, I think it's a little late for self-defence now.
  • ioto... Just be glad it wasn't this guy