Image via firststatetrade.com

Are you one of the 7.14% of Americans who have a carry license? If so, does your significant other know what to do if they get that dreaded call? You know, the one that goes like this, “Honey, was attacked and I had to shoot someone. I’m at the police station. Get me an attorney, ASAP!”

The sooner you start your legal defense, the sooner you get to go home.

This morning, while opening the mail, I happened onto the renewal membership cards from the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. One for me and one for my bride. I signed my spouse up a year or two ago when she got her license to carry.

She’s taken classes and knows what to do if she ever gets that dreaded call from me. But today, while we put the cards into our respective wallets, I made sure she also had the emergency phone number for my favored law firm.

Years ago, when I started carrying a gun, I had a couple of attorneys I’d call. One practiced in my hometown, and the other in Cook County. Age eventually got the better of both of them and they’re no longer practicing.

My search for replacement attorneys took a couple of years, but I found some. Because of my unique job, I have a chance to meet all sorts of great people, including some very good attorneys.

If fortune has not favored you similarly, don’t panic. Ask friends you might have who work as cops who they would call to represent themselves or their spouses if they were involved in an off-duty shooting. Cops tend to know the better attorneys in their area.

Get An Attorney and Coordinate With Your Significant Other...Just In Case

Failing that, retired judges and prosecutors usually make better criminal defense attorneys. Shop around and when you find a good one, ask for an after-hours phone number. You really don’t want to cool your jets in jail over a holiday weekend waiting to speak to your lawyer.

Still striking out on attorney referrals? Sign up for a legal defense insurance policy. Virtually all of the companies out there should provide attorney referrals. Not only is this important for picking a good one where you live, but should circumstances force you to shoot in self-defense while on vacation, you’ll want the services of a good attorney there, away from home, as well.

Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, US Law Shield, US Concealed Carry Association, Second Call Defense, SPRISKA, NRA Carry Guard…lots of services provide this kind of coverage. They vary in their terms and conditions. I have written about the pros and cons of several in the past, but that information has become dated.

Unfortunately, lots of people don’t really have a good idea who to call for help. Even people without carry licenses should consider who they would like to represent them before a real need comes along. For instance, a farmer in rural Knox County Illinois probably never dreamed he would have to shoot an attacker a couple of hundred yards outside his front door. But he did.

Even worse, the farmer probably never thought he might face an aggressive prosecutor playing politics with his case. But once again, he did.

No, sitting in a jail cell thumbing through a Yellow Pages is a poor strategy for finding good legal representation. Ditto for the friend or family member you called who’s trying to help you out. After all, if you choose wrong, you can lose your freedom and liberty in addition to lots of hard-earned cash.

And public defenders, while skilled in the criminal justice system, won’t make good attorneys. They simply have too many clients in their caseload. And frankly, they work day in and day out representing guilty clients. You’re not their typical client. And you don’t want their typical defense strategies.

In a nutshell, take the time to communicate with your family now. Identify a good local attorney or law firm you’d use for criminal defense work. Not only that, but make sure you’ve got a way to contact them after hours.

Lastly, make sure you’ve got a way to come up with a $10,000 or $20,000 retainer to fund the start of your criminal defense. You’ll thank me for this if you have to pull the trigger someday.

46 COMMENTS

  1. Good article, but…..

    Why this: “Lastly, make sure you’ve got a way to come up with a $10,000 or $20,000 retainer to fund the start of your criminal defense.”

    With the proper SD insurance the retainer is unnecessary. An emergency fund for bail may be a good idea (again, depending on the insurance coverage).

    • “An emergency fund for bail may be a good idea”

      10,000 percent agree. But you’re talking Americans here, who consider living paycheck-to-paycheck an ‘adventure sport’.

      But hey, it keeps the local pawn shops in business… 😉

  2. At the advice of Jon Gutmacher who wrote about Fla State laws and CCW. Get an Attorney that actually is a CC permit holder if possible. They are more likely to walk the walk, than just be a mouth piece for a paycheck.

  3. I wonder how many people have been attacked on the stand for their purchasing insurance against them shooting someone. Any attorney worth his salt would make a big deal out of this and would spin it to “prove” that you bought murder insurance. Unless you carry a firearm for your job, I think that many courts would try to bury you with this fact.

    • A good defense attorney would argue that the SD “insurance” is merely pre-paid retainer, and establishment of a co-op to fund personal liability not only for self-defense, but also for accidental injury to others. Every person has a moral right to liability insurance, of whatever kind. Every person has a moral right to defend themselves in court, and legal insurance for attorney services has never proven to be a motivating factor in any other personal liability case. (property insurance motivating arson is completely different – arsonists do not decide on the act based on whether they have money for an attorney, but on whether the amount of insurance to be collected justifies the risk of detection) Murder insurance can only be such if and when a person is convicted of murder.

    • I wonder how many people have been attacked on the stand for their purchasing insurance against them shooting someone. Any attorney worth his salt would make a big deal out of this and would spin it to “prove” that you bought murder insurance.

      I have a number in my (large) state: Never

      We had someone look at the case law in my state and this was never argued, note even once. e.

    • And the city that purchases insurance which would pay for the lawsuits when the PD murders somebody, must be planning government sanctioned murder.

      In other words:
      Objection, Your Honor.
      Sustained.

      • Good point !

        If SD liability insurance entices people to commit crimes or be reckless with guns, then prohibiting automobile insurance should eliminate accidents/collisions entirely.

    • Same here, my wife and I both signed up. I’ve called them a couple times with questions about local statutes and they’ve been quite helpful. I have no doubt that if either of us had to use a firearm in defense of our family, we’d have excellent legal representation.

  4. $20,000 for a DGU, Holy shit, I’d rather be robbed by the crook with a gun then a crook with a book.

    • A great reason to avoid conflict even when it means backing down and feeling like you ‘lost.’ Even winning a fight can be very expensive.

      • Apologize even if your are in the right, NO offensive hand gestures, do not lay on the horn, do not tailgate someone who cut you off, do not flash your lights behind them, and the list goes on. Coat yourself with ‘Teflon’ & let it slide off; however, if push comes to shove, you will know you did provoke it.

  5. I have CCW Safe, no need to worry about coming with “…$10,000 or $20,000 retainer to fund the start of your criminal defense…”, coverage from any reputable policy does not require you to front the money and be reimbursed later. A proper policy covers you from beginning to end.

    • Have USCCA, takes care of everything upfront, any legal weapon covered, even hands & feet. Covered in ‘No Carry’ zones; I do not disarm (but never go where they search or metal detect). Provide great training program also.

  6. 1) Keep in mind well over 99% of deployment of a firearm in self defense does not involve firing the gun. Yes you want to consider insurance for legal fees, but the risk is very low (although high consequence) so if you can afford legal fees the insurance for that may be overkill.

    2) also most non LEO self defense shootings are NOT by CCL/W carriers, but by simple gun owning homeowners in their homes or business owners at their business property. so this is not about having CCL, but having any gun.

    3) since your biggest risk may actually be civil from a shooting where you injure someone, you may wish to consider your assets and whether they are distributed to trusts or proper joint ownership. If you have a $700K home mostly paid off you have a giant target on your back for getting sued. A person with $500,000 or a million in assets is going to get sued more readily than a person with $50k in unmortgaged assets even if the $500K self defender had more legal standing in his/her self defense shooting than the $50K one.

    4) know your state laws. Probative burdens vary. There are strong SYG states, intermediate protection jurisdictions, and really bad ones. DC for example, despite being very liberal is intermediate in self defense law. Also in some states you expressly can’t be sued for self defense unless convicted, but in most states you can be.

    5) Sad as it is to say, don’t use your firearm to protect a third party. While you actually have a right to do so, no different than your right to protect yourself, if some guy is beating his wife or girlfriend to death, if you intervene there is a chance the wife/girlfriend will turn on you and testify against you.

    • Point #5 is the saddest, but part of my thought on why I would ever use a firearm on another human: only to protect the wellbeing of my family. I’ll jump in physically, call 911, and/or rally support from other good citizens as the situation dictates to save a third party from harm, but the risk of shooting someone in a situation in which I’m not 100% aware of what’s going on could easily lead to me winding up in prison. That breaks my entire purpose of carrying—to protect the wellbeing of my family. I can’t do much for them behind bars.

      • I agree. I *might* make an exception if the apparent victim in need of assistance is wearing a police uniform, but I won’t be sure unless it happens.

    • I think you are spot on with point 5, however I’d say to make an exception with mass shootings. No court in the universe will convict you for shooting a mass shooter.. unless that court is in Commiefornia.

      • … not so sure I would get involved in any mass-shooting event, unless/until ‘I’ can confirm the shooter is targeting me and/or anyone I am tasked with.

      • Mass shootings are inherently a threat to anyone within ballistic range of the BG. The people in the crowd taking fire cannot know the exact intentions of the BG, nor have any assurance that they will not be shot. That falls under “well-being of me and my family”, and I’d engage whenever practical and in whatever fashion did not expose my family to greater harm.

        • Allow me to reiterate, or otherwise clarify …

          “… not so sure I would get involved in any mass-shooting event, unless/until ‘I’ can confirm the shooter is targeting me and/or anyone I am tasked with.”

          What I am saying is, if the mass-shooting actor\s are not directly ****targeting**** me, anyone I’m tasked with and/or defenseless adolescent\s –within my reasonable reach–, I will probably ‘not’ engage during that event.

          ‘My’ bottom-line is not only to survive the event, –but the aftermath as well. There is no desire to on television nor a material witness.

        • Apparently, an event where many rounds are flying wildly and which may approximate a mass shooting, it may actually be the popo doing mag dumps

        • If the shooter is not targeting me, I cannot be certain he is not targeting the actual mass shooter, ie, he’s another defender.

    • ….”since your biggest risk may actually be civil from a shooting where you injure someone, you may wish to consider your assets and whether they are distributed to trusts or proper joint ownership. …”

      How does one search for civil cases involving DGU in a particular State or ?

      Sure…Google and all that, but how to wade through it all and get to original sources that are accurate?

  7. “does your significant other know what to do if they get that dreaded call?”

    Dreaded call? Ha! It was probably your significant other who got you arrested in the first place.

  8. Your image saying “a good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer knows the judge” epitomizes EVERYTHING that is wrong with the American “legal system”.

  9. Lucky boy I am. SigOther is former criminal defense attorney now crim prosecutor in adjacent county. And she prefers 9mm. But, she’s given me the interview drills over and over. It all comes down to, STFU, give them my number, and stay cool.

    She’s even drilled my boy about how to deal with the poe-poe. “I know you’re just doing your job, sir, but I’d like to speak with my dad’s attorney, please.”

  10. So if we don’t have a way to come up with the money to fund our defense, we should just not carry and get robbed? no thanks.

    • Agree. Same with homeowners and auto insurance. Save the money. You don’t need any kind of insurance.

      Until you do.

      But, hey, what’s the actual likelihood?

  11. “Honey, I’m OK, there was a shooting, I’m OK, and SOMEONE got shot, I’m OK, call the attorney and don’t talk to anyone…anyone, I’m OK.” They tape all jail phone calls, they have to, and you just admitted to being the shooter. Nice play, Shakespeare. The best lawer in the world can’t dig you out of a pit like that. Remain silent, make no admissions to anyone except your attorney. Don’t think they’ll stick you with a “celli” looking to work out his own problems? You’ll be coming down off the biggest adrenaline dump of your life, an unfortunate sympton of this is diarrhea of the mouth. That’s the way it works, it’s not TV, it’s your life. If you only remember one thing, remember this, keep your mouth shut.30

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here