Loyola University Maryland

Jujitsu Club at Loyola

The Law & Lethal Force

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Read the full report done by Sensei Geoff Sasso 2004 

Outline of Highlights

The student of self-defense and martial arts possesses great power over the life or death of her attacker. The law calls this power "lethal force."

What the law thinks about self-defense: In the court of law, excessive force is evidence of malice. If the attacker dies from the injury you inflicted, after you had already put him helpless on the ground, you can be charged with murder.

You must know when to stop: Common law allows the use of deadly force against an assailant only when you or another innocent person are in immediate and unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm.

Criteria that determine such situations include,

  1. Ability: The attacker possesses the power to kill or cripple. That power may take the form of a deadly weapon, or it may be that you are out numbered.  Your attacker may be much larger and stronger than you, you may be a disabled person being attacked by a healthy criminal, you might be an elderly person attacked by a young adult, or you are a woman savagely assaulted by a man.
  2. Opportunity: The attacker is capable of employing that power immediately.
  3. Ranging: How quickly a person can close what seems like a safe distance.
  4. Jeopardy: The opponent is acting in such a way that you could assume they intend to kill or cripple you with a weapon.

The Law–What You Can And Cannot Do In Self-Defense

Class discussion

  • At what point do you turn into the attacker?
  • When can you use your self-defense to protect others?
  • Was it breaking-and-entering (watch out for that child)?
  • When can you use weapons and is it safe for you to do so
  • Guns
  • Mace "it can shoot up to 15 ft "
  • Hands can only be used if attacker is in your space
  • Secondary: what you carry on you or have around you

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