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Using my gun to defend a stranger
#1
Okay, I’ve been searching for clarity on a few questions on when it’s acceptable to defend a stranger and can’t find anything actually legal, just peoples opinions.

Is it legal to shoot a man who is attacking, and looks like they will cause significant bodily harm or death, to a woman or child? (In the case that all are strangers to you and you can tell that the victim may not make it if they have to wait for law enforcement to arrive.)

If you’re at the park and see a child obviously being kidnapped, can you shoot the kidnapper? What’s the best thing to do in that situation?

If you’re in a public place, and someone comes in with a gun, demands everyone to get on the floor and holds them as hostages (I know that rarely happens, just trying to find out how to properly react to different scenarios) but you don’t feel like your life is in immediate danger hoever, you see someone else’s is, can you shoot?

Are there actual laws that pertain to these situations or when it’s legal in general to use a gun to save a stranger?

I’d hate to see something I feel I should use a firearm because someone else’s life in danger, but not know if it’s the right time to use deadly force (or if I’m even legally allowed to).

If there are similar situations that you can think of when using my gun to end the threat to someone else’s life, isn’t legal, please let me know!

TIA.
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#2
Absolutely yes. I can't remember the C.R.S. that covers off the top of my head. I'll post it soon.
Smileak
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#3
Great thanks! And thank you for your fast reply Lead Junkie!
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#4
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C.R.S. 18-1-704  (Copy w/ Cite)
Pages: 11
C.R.S. 18-1-704


COLORADO REVISED STATUTES

*** Current through all laws passed during the 2017 Legislative Session. ***

TITLE 18. CRIMINAL CODE  
ARTICLE 1.PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO OFFENSES GENERALLY  
PART 7. JUSTIFICATION AND EXEMPTIONS FROM CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY

C.R.S. 18-1-704 (2017)

18-1-704. Use of physical force in defense of a person



(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.

(2) Deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and:

(a) The actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury; or

(b) The other person is using or reasonably appears about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling or business establishment while committing or attempting to commit burglary as defined in sections 18-4-202 to 18-4-204; or

© The other person is committing or reasonably appears about to commit kidnapping as defined in section 18-3-301 or 18-3-302, robbery as defined in section 18-4-301 or 18-4-302, sexual assault as set forth in section 18-3-402, or in section 18-3-403 as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, or assault as defined in sections 18-3-202 and 18-3-203.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, a person is not justified in using physical force if:

(a) With intent to cause bodily injury or death to another person, he provokes the use of unlawful physical force by that other person; or

(b) He is the initial aggressor; except that his use of physical force upon another person under the circumstances is justifiable if he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his intent to do so, but the latter nevertheless continues or threatens the use of unlawful physical force; or

© The physical force involved is the product of a combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law.

(4) In a case in which the defendant is not entitled to a jury instruction regarding self-defense as an affirmative defense, the court shall allow the defendant to present evidence, when relevant, that he or she was acting in self-defense. If the defendant presents evidence of self-defense, the court shall instruct the jury with a self-defense law instruction. The court shall instruct the jury that it may consider the evidence of self-defense in determining whether the defendant acted recklessly, with extreme indifference, or in a criminally negligent manner. However, the self-defense law instruction shall not be an affirmative defense instruction and the prosecuting attorney shall not have the burden of disproving self-defense. This section shall not apply to strict liability crimes.

"Self-Defense in Colorado", see 24 Colo. Law. 2717 (1995).

Annotator's note. Since § 18-1-704 is similar to former § 40-2-15, C.R.S. 1963, and laws antecedent thereto, relevant cases construing those provisions have been included in the annotations to this section.

Doctrine of retreat is from common law. There is no statutory provision regarding the duty of a person to retreat before countering the use of force with force. The doctrine derives from the common law. People v. Watson, 671 P.2d 973 (Colo. App. 1983).
Smileak
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C.R.S. 18-1-704.5 (Copy w/ Cite)
Pages: 4
C.R.S. 18-1-704.5


COLORADO REVISED STATUTES

*** Current through all laws passed during the 2017 Legislative Session. ***

TITLE 18. CRIMINAL CODE
ARTICLE 1.PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO OFFENSES GENERALLY
PART 7. JUSTIFICATION AND EXEMPTIONS FROM CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY

C.R.S. 18-1-704.5 (2017)

18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder



(1) The general assembly hereby recognizes that the citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1-704, any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.

(3) Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from criminal prosecution for the use of such force.

(4) Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from any civil liability for injuries or death resulting from the use of such force.

(5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, "dwelling" does not include any place of habitation in a detention facility, as defined in section 18-8-211 (4).

HISTORY: Source: L. 85: Entire section added, p. 662, § 1, effective June 6. L. 2016: (5) added, (HB 16-1190), ch. 87, p. 245, § 1, effective August 10.
Smileak
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#6
Thank you for finding that information, it’s exactly what I was looking for! So basically, yes if you believe a third party is in imminent danger that will cause serious bodily injury or death, it’s lawful to stop the threat. This includes kidnapping and if someone enters your home and attacks someone else in your house. As long as you aren’t the one who is the initial aggressor. Am I correctly reading the laws on this?
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#7
(10-19-2017, 09:14 PM)SigSauerChick Wrote: Thank you for finding that information, it’s exactly what I was looking for! So basically, yes if you believe a third party is in imminent danger that will cause serious bodily injury or death, it’s lawful to stop the threat. This includes kidnapping and if someone enters your home and attacks someone else in your house. As long as you aren’t the one who is the initial aggressor. Am I correctly reading the laws on this?

You're generally correct. But two things to bring up.
  • Self defense (or defense of another) outside the home must essentially be the minimum force necessary. The amount of force you use must be reasonably needed to thwart the threat. If that means deadly force, so be it. While we don't have a duty to retreat, we can't simply use deadly force on an otherwise non-deadly encounter.
  • Castle Doctrine (C.R.S. 18-1-704.5), on the other hand, has much more leniency in how much force can be used, but THREE items must be met:
  1. The attacker must be entering a dwelling structure (so tents and motor homes do not count) without invitation. This means that somebody on premises with an invitation that is later rescinded does NOT meet this requirement; overstaying one's welcome is not justification to invoke this clause.
  2. The attacker is committing a crime, or the occupant (that's "occupant", not necessarily the resident) reasonably believes they will
  3. The attacker uses force against an occupant of the dwelling - NO MATTER HOW SLIGHT. 

That last part could mean threatening steps towards the defender - it does not have to mean deadly force. 

All three elements must come into play for this statute to apply. Anything short of that, and it reverts to standard self defense. So if you have a party, somebody comes and is allowed inside, and then turns violent - Castle Doctrine doesn't apply, but Self Defense might. 



And generally speaking, a person to steps in on behalf of a third-party defender would be justified, as long as the defender herself would be justified in that instance. So if you invite a family member over for a few nights, and somebody breaks in and attacks the family member, you (as the homeowner) would be justified in using lethal force.



I would suggest picking up "The Law of Self Defense" by Andrew Branca. He's also giving a two-part seminar here in Lakewood next month (he's also doing Part 2 tomorrow, but you have to have done Part 1 already). The book is pretty reasonable, easy to read, and doesn't cost a fortune. His seminars...well...let's just say he's proud of them. In the neighborhood of $300 do all of them. But the book generally is enough. The seminars go into greater detail, and Part 2 focuses on state-specific items.
JackRock
Lakewood, CO
http://ryancash.co
Charter Member, Bristlecone Shooting Center
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#8
Thank you for clarifying JackRock, I appreciate it! I definitely want to stay inside the law and wouldn’t want someone to die simply because I wasn’t sure if I was legally allowed to use lethal force. I will most definitely check out the book. The seminar is a bit out of budget lol plus I live in Springs so about an hour to an hour and a half (depending on traffic) from Lakewood. But the book sounds like it would be a great help!
Thanks again!
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#9
I just ordered the book - thank you for suggesting it!
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#10
One more tip, while you're waiting for your book. Check out Episode 148 of the Concealed Carry Podcast (https://www.concealedcarry.com/law/episode-148-stand-your-ground-self-defense-law-with-andrew-branca/). The guys that run it, Riley and Jacob, are Colorado locals. And Andrew is the guest on that show, and he talks at length of the five elements of a successful self defense argument in court.

I was sure they had him on in an earlier episode too, but I can't find it. Must be before the current archives they have online. But ep. 148 has the core of what you need, and is just under 90 minutes long.

I also recommend the Concealed Carry Podcast in general. They have lots of great info on there, including podcasters from other shows, like Mike Seeklander.
JackRock
Lakewood, CO
http://ryancash.co
Charter Member, Bristlecone Shooting Center
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#11
Wow! Thanks so much for your help; I’ll check it out!
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#12
Just keep in mind that you cannot claim self-defense if you initiate the confontation*.

What this means in a third-party case is you better be on the correct side of the confrontation if you choose to show, draw or fire your gun.

Example: Woman tries stabbing ex-boyfriend. Ex boyfriend decks her and pins her to the ground to keep from being stabbed. At this point you happen upon the scene due to the screaming. You size the situation up as being a man attacking a woman. Guy's not following your command to break off because he's afraid of being stabbed. If you take ANY action against the man in this case you're going to jail. Perhaps for a long, long time depending on what you do. Because you (incorrectly) sided with the initiator of violence, you are just as culpable as the initiator.

If you don't know the complete history of the confrontation AND the parties involved, be a good witness, unfortunately.

O2

* There is an exception to this.
When seconds count, the police are mere minutes away...
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