Surviving an assault on your person, or “winning a fight”, aren’t your only worries, because it is highly probable that you will be dealing with the police and/or legal system. You could win a physical battle, but loose the legal war – if you do not play your cards right!
When a street fight or assault occurs, there are several factors that will likely trigger the attention of the police: noise, broken or damaged property, disturbed neighbours or businesses, and obvious signs of physical trauma. Since it is the job of the police to act on reasonable suspicions of breaches of the criminal code, you can bet they will be asking you questions if you get into a fight in public.
From the perspective of the police in investigating probable assaults, they are concerned with factors such as:
- The use of force by you – was it reasonable? Did you use reasonable force in protecting yourself? In determining whether or not you have a legitimate claim to self defense, they will determine if the force you used to defend yourself was proportionate to the force or threat of immanent force posed against you? For example, in practical terms, a slap is equal to a slap, a punch to a punch, etc… If all the other person did was give you a shove, you would not be justified in throwing them to the ground with a Sambo throw and stomping their head to the ground. This is what the law would term “excessive force”, which will invalidate your claims to “self defence” – guaranteed!
- Was there a “disparity of force” used against you? If you are attacked by a larger attacker or multiple attackers, it bodes in your favor with your claim that you had to use force to defend yourself against immediate physical harm or even death.
- Were there aggravating circumstances? Is your attacker known to you? Often “prior acts” will help you, if the person also has a history of stalking or harassing you.
- Did you do all you could to reasonably avoid a fight? Could you have run? Called the police? Got in your car and drove away? Why did you get out of your car and start an argument with the other person(s)? All of these sorts of criteria will help the police filter out whether or not you acted “reasonably”, ie, would most other people have done the same as you? The word “reasonable” is the middle word in police work! Keep it in mind, and it could save your ass from being thrown in the slammer or being sued, or both!
Things to keep in mind when dealing with the police after a fight
- In a streetfight, there is no “winner” or “looser”. The “winner” usually goes to jail, and/or civil court, and the “loser” usually ends up injured, possibly permanently, or in the trauma ward in the hospital – or dead. Keep this in mind when dealing with all the crazies out there. It is not worth it, to get into a potentially life-changing conflict, over trifles or ego, when they can be avoided. Some times, you just have to let shit go.
- When the police show up, for God’s sake, be polite and respectful. Do not act aggressively. If you came out on top and the attacker is injured, do not gloat or act proud of yourself. Keep you emotions in check! Emotional intelligence is your best friend here in the few minutes within which the police will determine if you are a “good guy” or “bad guy”.
- Identify yourself as the victim. Lay out the sequence of events in a calm, rational manner. Say, “Officer, he did this and this, I tried to get away, but he left me no choice… He did “A”, which forced me to do “B”, which led to “C”. And again, be polite! Do not use profanity, slurs or anything else. Sure, you could have beaten a really bad guy’s ass back there, but don’t also beat yourself!
- Learn the law in your jurisdiction. Usually the legal interpretation of self defence is pretty standard, but it does vary. For example, in Texas, we have the so-called “Castle Law“, where you are pretty much entitled to use lethal force to protect your home from home invaders. Other places like Canada or the UK have stricter laws.
- If arrested, say nothing without a lawyer present. Learn about police interrogation tactics like the “Reid Technique“.
The best way to deal with the police after a fight or assault is to avoid getting into on in the first place! That is the major premise of this site – avoidance! In a real vicious streetfight, one usually ends up injured, possibly permanently, or in the trauma ward in the hospital – or dead. Keep this in mind when dealing with all the crazies out there. It is not worth it, to get into a potentially life-changing conflict, over trifles or ego, when they can be avoided.
Sometimes, you just have to let shit go.
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