Usually it is difficult to kill but sometimes it is very easy.
When Roger Perry cut in line at the convenience store, Mohammad Hussein confronted him.
Perry (“allegedly”) backhanded him across the face and Hussein cracked his skull on the floor and died.
Now Perry will be going to jail for murder.
We must control our tempers and weigh the use of violence against the very real possibility of this outcome.
In most jurisdictions, defense of self or of others is an affirmative defense to criminal charges for an act of violence. It acts to provide complete justification.
However, when an assailant ceases to be a threat (e.g. by being tackled and restrained, surrendering, or fleeing), the defense of justification will fail if the defending party presses on to attack or to punish beyond imposing physical restraint. A somewhat less obvious application of this rule is that admitting the use of deadly force in an attempt to disable rather than kill the assailant can be construed as evidence that the defendant was not yet in enough danger to justify lethal force in the first place. Sometimes there is a duty to retreat which makes the defense problematic when applied to abusive relationships (see battered woman syndrome and abuse defense), and in burglary situations given thecastle doctrine (see: Edward Coke), which argues that one cannot be expected to retreat from one’s own home, namely, “a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium” i.e. Latin for “and one’s home is the safest refuge”).
New York Penal Law section 35.15 effectively ordains that:
“A person may… use DEADLY physical force upon another person” “when and to the extent he reasonably believes such to be NECESSARY to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be …. a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible sodomy or ROBBERY; or (c) … a burglary….”
There is no duty to retreat under these circumstances. However, if one is “challenged” in a bar for a fight, accepting such challenge and using deadly force, instead of walking away, generally will not constitute a self-defense.
In some countries and U.S. states, the concept of “pre-emptive” self-defense is limited by a requirement that the threat be imminent. Thus, lawful “pre-emptive” self-defense is simply the act of landing the first-blow in a situation that has reached a point of no hope for de-escalation or escape. Many self-defense instructors and experts believe that if the situation is so clear-cut as to feel certain violence is unavoidable, the defender has a much better chance of surviving by landing the first blow and gaining the immediate upper hand to quickly stop the risk to their person.
It is often said that you should only use violence if you felt in fear of your life or the life of a loved one or companion.
Remember how easily someone can be killed when making your choice. Make sure it is a choice and not an emotional outburst.
The life of the other person is on the line and so is the determination of whether you will spend your life in freedom or incarcerated.
Violence must be a last and desperate resort.