Tag Archive for 'kansas'

If You Don’t Shoot Your Attacker In Kansas Then Waive Bye-Bye To Claiming Self-Defense

Kansas is a whacky place, what with its impossibly flat land and endless fields of wheat and sorghum (which is apparently a type of sustainable livestock feed and ethanol fuel source), not to mention the perpetual parade of impervious aliens and supernatural portals.

Well, the crazy Kansans of the Sunflower State can now add a new claim to fame by being the only state that requires you to shoot your attacker with your gun as a prerequisite to claiming self-defense, or else the defense will be waived and you’ll be charged with aggravated assault.

Hmm…  That new one doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily as “The Barbed Wire Capital of the World.”

In a recent case before the Kansas Court of Appeals, a majority of the court held that under Kansas law, citizens who attempt to claim self-defense when confronted by either the threat of harm which they reasonably believe will occur or are under actual physical attack, can only claim the defense if they use actual physical force against their attacker.

What constitutes actual physical force?  Well in the case of State v. Flint described in the previous paragraph, it meant that the defendant, Flint, had to actually fire the gun he was holding at his attacker.

Sound weird?  Well it sounds even stranger when you know the actual facts of the case.  Flint and his fiancée were in a bar when his fiancée got into an argument with two male bar patrons.  The argument eventually moved outside of the bar and became more heated.  Then somewhere along the line there was a “scuffle” and Flint’s fiancée end up on the floor.  Flint then grabbed a gun from his car and pointed it at the men who then backed off.

Now you’d think that this might sound like a clear-cut case for self-defense, and a more preferable use of it as well since the situation was resolved with no one getting hurt.  And if anything, the question of whether Flint should be allowed a self-defense claim should revolve around whether his belief that he or his fiancée were under the threat of harm was reasonable and whether his pointing a gun was a reasonable response.

Well, not quite – in Kansas anyway.  The court convicted Flint of aggravated assault.  In legal language assault means threatening another with physical harm, whereas battery means actually physically harm another person.  Aggravated in this case just means a weapon was used.

So you might be wondering at this point how such a seemingly backward result occurred.  It’s because the Kansas Court of Appeals was upholding a previous ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court on a case called State v. Hendrix where the court took a literal interpretation of the Kansas statute on self-defense.  Basically the court said because the statute only allows self-defense claims when a person uses force and makes no mention of using the threat of force, then self-defense is only allowed in Kansas when a person actually uses force on their attacker and nothing less.

It’s a very, very strange ruling.  I mean most states around the country have similarly worded statutes on self-defense and they all seem to understand how weird and potentially dangerous a literal interpretation can be, especially when one takes into consideration how America’s attitudes on guns are evolving.

In the meantime, the only way Kansans can change this interpretation is by soliciting their legislature for a change to the self-defense law.  But it’s not all bad.  Kansan gun-toters must be ecstatic right now.

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A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed; A Pregnant Woman In Need May Be Trying To Rob You

You know, I, like many people, would like to think that people in general are born to be naturally kind and compassionate.  That when people see a wrong occurring, they’ll feel inherently inclined to want to “do the right thing” or at the very least recognize the injustice in a situation and wish for it to end.  Yes, I know that I’m sounding very preachy at the moment, but it my blog post and I can do what I want, so nah nah nah nah nah nah…

Anyway, I do have a point to all this.  You see, the problem with being so naturally nice is that not everyone shares that trait.  They may be born with it, but due to various circumstances and events, they’ve learned to become less-than-stellar people.  This presents a situation in which those who are sympathetic to the plight of others will often get the wool pulled over their eyes as they blindly help those they perceive to be in need, only to be taken advantage of by the aforementioned less-than-stellar people.

pregnant robberCase in point, if a pregnant woman came knocking on your door and asked if she could use your phone to get help because her car broke down, you’d probably let her in, right?  No!?  You monster, she’s a stranded woman carrying a child!!  So now would you her in?  Good.  Hey, she just robbed you.  See, as an angry misanthrope I know better than to fall for the old I’m-pregnant-and-my-car-broke-down-please-let-me-use-your-phone scam.  Psshtshah… oldest trick in the book…

Seriously though, it seems as if the state of Kansas was going through a miniature crime spree allegedly perpetrated by the woman who is ACTUALLY pregnant (surprising, I know).  She’s estimated to be in about her eighth month of pregnancy and is suspected in pulling this scam in at least three cities across Kansas.  But don’t worry if you live in Kansas; she’s already been taken into custody.  This story really makes you wonder who you can actually trust nowadays if even pregnant women are robbing people.

Anyway, this case brings to mind an interesting legal principle called the law of necessity.  Basically it allows people to avoid criminally liability if they commit a crime in order to prevent some greater harm.  Generally it’s used in criminal cases.  An example would be when a person steals a car in order to run away from someone trying to kill them.  But it gets really interesting in civil cases where it can be employed as a defense against a civil lawsuit.

In the pregnant woman’s case, she may try to argue first that the theft she was arrested for was not connected to the previous similar robberies.  At which point, if the court believed her, she could try and argue that she was merely stealing money from the person who let her in their home because she had some sort of medical emergency related to her pregnancy.

Sound good, right?  Maybe, but it probably wouldn’t work since there didn’t seem to be any medical emergency involved with her pregnancy (the article doesn’t mention anything) and the law of necessity still requires that you pay back the money/property that you’ve taken.

The bigger problem, however, is still proving that your emergency was of greater importance to necessitate your crime, which, in my opinion, makes employing a necessity defense very difficult.  As the old saying goes, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time…