What To Do After You Shoot . . .
Gun owners frequently ask us what they should do in a situation after they have been forced to use their firearm in self-defense. The actions you take immediately after a self-defense use of your firearm are critically important and may make the difference between a criminal conviction and freedom. First of all, make sure that the threat has been controlled. You want to ensure that you are not in any physical danger before you do anything else. After the threat has been controlled, call 911 to request medical and police assistance. The only information you need to provide to the dispatcher is your name, the location of the emergency, what type of assistance is needed, and that you have been the victim of a crime. Make sure that you do not discuss the incident with the operator! All 911 calls are recorded, and your recorded conversation with the dispatcher may be used as evidence against you if you are later charged with a crime. 911 operators are trained to keep you on the phone, but at this time it is important to end the call. After you hang up with 911, return your firearm to safekeeping prior to the inevitable arrival of law enforcement, if it is possible, and do not disturb the scene. Then, CALL YOUR LAWYER! Your lawyer will help to guide you through the rest of the process, including the police investigation and beyond. When the police arrive, comply with all their commands in a non-threatening manner, and keep your hands visible. This may involve surrendering your firearm, being handcuffed, AND EVEN BEING ARRESTED. Do not make any jokes or cute remarks. Inform them that you have been the victim of a crime, and clearly state the following: I wish to invoke my right to remain silent, and I want to consult my attorney before making any statements. This statement will ensure that your legal rights are invoked. A common misconception is that you can invoke your right to remain silent if you say nothing whatsoever. This is not true! Without a clear invocation of your rights, a police interrogation may go on indefinitely. Your freedom, liberty, and fortune are at risk, so make sure to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer!
Remember that the police will not necessarily know who is the good guy or the bad guy in the situation. Their job is to investigate the incident, and part of their investigation will be to take any statements you or anyone else might have about what happened. Any statements you make can and WILL be used against you. Therefore, do not make any statements to the police besides invoking your rights. Do not make any statements to anyone else about what happened. Before you discuss the incident with anyone else, wait to talk to your attorney. If you do make a statement, and what you say does not match the physical or material evidence collected at the scene, you may have a big problem on your hands.
Being involved in a self-defense shooting is stressful enough. Dont make things harder on yourself by waiving your rights or putting yourself in a sticky legal situation because of a statement made to the police under anxiety and panic. Following these guidelines will ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance to avoid an unjust charge or conviction.