by Steve Davis, Esq.
Anyone who knows me at all knows of my rather robust sense of humor. Moreover, I love a good joke and will joke about anything and everything. What’s more, I firmly believe laughter genuinely enhances our quality of life. n most instances I happily shrug off political correctness in exchange for a good guffaw.
However, this attorney studiously avoids one genre of humor and you should, too.
Almost all of us have seen those signs or bumper stickers that say, “I don’t dial 9-1-1” or “Trespassers will be shot.” Or this one:
Now, I must confess to a quiet chuckle when I see one of those. However, as an attorney who frequently teaches the law relating to deadly force, I advise all my students to never display this kind of sign or bumper sticker.
Why is that? Well, in any criminal case in which you assert the right to use deadly force to protect yourself or another, you are going to have to produce evidence that you reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. Likewise, your frame of mind at the time of the incident will be a critically important part of sustaining the defense.
So, how do these signs or bumper stickers come into play? Well, if your case is less than perfect, the prosecutor is going to produce evidence showing that you displayed one of these signs or bumper stickers. He – or she – will argue that these signs serve as clear evidence of your desire or even eagerness to shoot or kill someone.
Yes, with a nice, glossy 8×10 picture, the prosecuting attorney will tell the judge and jury that you didn’t care about the law. And that you thought you could and would do whatever you wanted.
And then that same prosecutor will wave that picture in front of the jury one last time for members to ponder. Additionally, the district attorney’s office may share the photo with media outlets to assist in their campaign to convict you in the court of public opinion!
Prosecutors will paint you – to anyone who will listen – as a cowboy just waiting for the opportunity to kill someone.
After all, we all know how the law does not authorize shooting trespassers. The law does not authorize you to alter or cover up evidence. Reasonable people call the police to have them resolve these situations.
In response, you would have to testify, “Hey, it was a joke.”
Right. In the middle of a homicide trial with all the grisly pictures and testimony, how many jurors will be amused?
The joke will be on you and your defense attorney. And it could end up costing you a lot of time in prison.
The simple and easy solution: Do not give the prosecutors this potential evidence. Take this potential argument away from the state’s attorney. Do not put up these signs or stickers.
If you already have some, for God’s sake, take them down today. Put them in the trash. In the event you ever have to defend your life, you will appreciate this advice.
Take it from this attorney: Anything relating to deadly force in the criminal justice system is no joking matter.
The law does not have a sense of humor.
Steve Davis, Esq., serves as president of Guns Save Life.