The following are commonly spoken words that are often misunderstood. Because they relate to physical confrontation, martial artists, should have a clear understanding of each of them.
CITIZEN’S ARREST: This is the act of one person (citizen) placing another person under arrest when the citizen observes that person committing a criminal act. You do this at your own risk. If you are wrong, or if you did not actually observe the person committing a crime, you may be liable for false imprisonment. In most jurisdictions, the citizen invoking the arrest will be listed as an arresting officer, and law enforcement is legally required to take an arrested suspect into custody even if they feel the arrest is unjustified. Citizen’s arrest should only be done as a last resort to prevent the alleged criminal from “fleeing the scene” after committing a crime.
ASSAULT: The intentional creation of apprehension of immediate harm to another. It is not a threat of some future, but a threatened immediate harm. Any non-lethal violence that does not involve substantial risk of death will be an assault. You don’t have to actually touch someone, only make them think that was your intention. The degree of assault varies upon instrumentality, numbers, or difference in ability to inflict harm to someone else. For instance, shot at with a gun, the swing of a bat, or some other attempted serious act to harm.
BATTERY: Any unwanted touching. The harmful or offensive touching of someone with the intent to harmfully or offensively touch. Simply grabbing a person in an argument, for example, may be sufficient to constitute battery. The contact doesn’t necessarily have to cause pain or injury. Examples of battery are harsh grabbing or pushing. The common defense to battery charges are: the right to self defense, reasonable touching, consent, implied consent, accident, mistake, and no intent.
GOOD SAMARITAN: The defense of others. You have the right to defend someone who in turn has the legal right to defend themselves but for some reason they cannot or will not defend themselves. If you have made a reasonable mistake of fact, you might still be able to plead defense of others, but not always. The use of non-physical de-escalation skills while law enforcement personnel are on the way is the wisest choice. Be a good witness.
EXCESSIVE FORCE: The use of continued use of retaliatory strikes when the threat is no longer immediate. For martial artists, an act may be considered retaliatory even if it followed the underlying assault by seconds. Reasonable force under assault circumstances is a difficult matter to judge with any accuracy. If you use excessively force, you can be charged with a crime. If law enforcement has probable cause to believe you used excessive force, you will probably be placed under arrests even if you were lawfully defending yourself.
MANSLAUGHTER: “Involuntary” manslaughter is when a person is killed by another unintentionally as a result of recklessness or gross negligence. “Voluntary” manslaughter is when a person is killed by another upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.
STATUTORY RAPE: Actually called FELONIOUS INTERCOURSE, is having sex with someone under the age of consent. The age of consent varies from state to state and can be as young as 16 years old, but 18 years old is the generally accepted minimum age of consent.
SELF DEFENSE: The right to defend yourself with as much force as required to ensure your safety. The critical elements to keep in mind are:
1) the defense must be necessary – no other way out,
2) the force used must be reasonable under the circumstances.
SELF DEFENSE IN THE EYES OF THE LAW . . .
The defense must be necessary. In order for the defense to be necessary, you must be protecting yourself from:
- Imminent harm by unlawful physical assault. If the harm is not imminent, you do not have the right to use force.
- Sexual assault.
- Unlawful detention.
- You must be in danger at the present time and not threatened with some future harm.
- You may not retaliate for some past harm or attempted harm.
If you use EXCESSIVE FORCE, you can be charged with a crime. If law enforcement has probable cause to believe you used excessive force, you will most likely be placed under arrest even if the initial self-defense is permitted.
MISTAKE OF FACT:
An example of this is as follows:
Someone points a toy gun or an unloaded gun at you in a threatening manner and you use defensive tactics on that person believing they could have and would have shot you, self-defense would apply.
The more innocent the person or unreasonable your belief, the less likely self-defense would still apply.
DUELING OR BRAWLING:
Most states have laws against the classical “let’s step outside” routine for a challenge match. Unless there are rules and the match is akin to a sporting event, both parties may be guilty of a crime.
The use of certain martial arts weapons is illegal in many states. California, in particular, has zero tolerance with regard to the use of the BO STAFF, NUNCHAKU, ESCRIMA STICK, KAMAS, TONFA, NINJA STARS, BUTTERFLY KNIVES, etc. The whole gamut of Martial Art weaponry is on the DO NOT USE list.
Never use these weapons to defend anyone or anything. If you use any Martial Art weapon outside of a licensed Martial Art school, you are committing a felony, which is a serious crime punishable by one year or more in prison. Using illegal weaponry of any kind will often get you into more trouble that the criminal against whom you used it!
This is the primary reason we DO NOT teach weapons as a means of self-defense. As a martial artist, it’s better to rely upon your empty hand skills if you must resort to physically defending yourself or coming to the defense of others.
TRESPASS TO LAND: Basically, this is coming onto someone’s land without right or permission. Emergencies allow people on land and some people have the right to enter, such as police, postal service, UPS, etc. If someone comes onto land and approaches a door, that is not trespass. If an uninvited person is on your property, you have the right to ask them to leave, and if they don’t you should inform them that they are now trespassing and call law enforcement. You may not physically remove the person or persons from your property.
DEFENSE OF PERSONAL PROPERTY:
Personal property can be defined as anything without a soul. Automobiles, luggage, clothing, money, tools, etc.
Using force to protect/defend property is generally frowned on by the law. The amount of force you use to protect property must be minimal, and generally speaking, progressive. You can’t start by breaking someone’s arm because they picked up your jacket at a restaurant.
You can avoid problems in almost all jurisdictions by first making verbal contact, then moving to physically prevent the person from leaving with or harming your property WITHOUT striking them; and then moving on to holds, pain compliance techniques, or other non-lethal methods or protecting your property.
DEFENSE OR YOUR HOME “CASTLE”:
Defending your home is another matter entirely. If you are trying to keep someone out of your home or office or business, you normally have the right to use some degree of force to eject them. Physically pushing someone out will not normally result in any liability. If the person uses force to gain entry, or if there is a probable danger of the person harming any of the occupants, then the amount of force used may be higher. Once the person leaves, you may not use any additional force except that which applies to citizen’s arrest.
MISCELLANEOUS ILLEGAL DEFENSE:
Repo man: If the repo man is taking your automobile, you cannot legally stop him from doing his job.
Landlord: If your landlord is coming into your apartment or rented home and has the right to do so under the conditions of your lease, you may not use force to prevent him from doing so.
California Penal Code 422: Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
For the purpose of this section, “immediate family” means any spouse, whether by marriage or not, parent, child, any person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree, or any other person who regularly resides in the household, or who, within the prior six months, regularly resided in the household.
“Electronic communication device” includes, but is not limited to, telephones, cellular telephones, computers, ipod, zune, video recorders, fax machines, or pagers. “Electronics communication” has the same meaning as the term defined in subsection 12 of Section 2510 of Title 18 of the United States Code.
© Pecoraros Academy of Fitness & Kickboxing 2010 Phone: 707-795-3135