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Self Defense/How to deal with/talk to law enforcement


QUESTION: The supposed Golden rule is "Get your lawyer,don't talk to the cops."
But I assume that there is more to this than can be solved by a simple soundbite.

I also ask this from the POV that you screwed up and may very well have crossed a legal line during an incident,like pre-emptive strikes,striking a downed opponent or getting carried away by the adrenaline during the incident. I believe Wim Demeere himself has written about how sometimes doing these things are necessary in certain neighborhoods:

ANSWER: The problem is people want a simple answer to questions that could fill libraries -- and in fact, do. They're called 'Law Libraries'

Two far more accurate statements about self-defense are
#1 "IF you are not experienced do not talk to the cops without your lawyer present."
#2 "The higher the level of force the more you'll need a lawyer present."

To understand the depth of both you need to know something about both cops and lawyers. Starting with that they are professionals in fields that you are a complete amateur. You wouldn't expect to be able to step onto the field and not just compete with, but beat, a professional football player would you?  Then why do you think you'd win against professionals in words and interrogation?

First recognize that at a primary level, cops are safety officers. Unless specialized, their job is to enforce laws that keep people from getting hurt. (Any discussion about corruption, oppressors and revenue generation is a totally different issue). Violence tends to catch their attention. Their second job is to investigate. Okay, dead body. Was it natural, suicide, accidental or homicide? Now if it was homicide was it a crime? A super-majority of the time that's a yes. Then the officer's job changes from pure investigation to building a case. (While it seems like finding out who did it would be the first step, that's a part of building a case -- as is excluding suspects.)

Here's the thing, if you are going to go the self-defense route YOU HAVE TO TALK TO THE COPS!

Here's something else, claiming self-defense does half of their job for them. Self-defense is an affirmative defense. It is YOU saying "Yes I did something that is normally a crime, but I had good reason that makes it not a crime." You just confessed.

When you do that, the game changes. Starting with -- and while it is technically wrong, people understand it better -- the burden of proof shifts to you.  In a legal context, justifications means: The act by which a party accused shows and maintains a good and legal reason in court, why he did the thing he is called upon to answer.

You can't just claim self-defense, you have to explain and provide evidence WHY it was self-defense. You are responsible for showing why it wasn't a crime.

And you need to do this against a professional at getting criminals to slip up and obliquely admit they did it so they can charge them. Someone who is trying to trip you up.

THAT is why it's smart to have a lawyer present. He knows how the answers to certain questions can be used against you. When he sees one of these questions, he'll say 'don't answer that.' (Do you still beat your wife? Either a yes or no answer is you confessing to having beaten your wife.)

Here's the down side to that.
#1 Does your lawyer know what self-defense is?
#2 Does your lawyer know how to defend it?

Defense attorneys are really good at damage control. That is to say most of their clients are guilty and they know it. It's up to them to keep the damage to a minimum (negotiate plea deals) If you honestly acted in self-defense, you're not going to be served by an attorney who is thinking you committed illegal violence and is angling for the best plea for a guilty person. On the other hand, if he understands you did act in self-defense, then his strategy is going to change.

As I often tell people 'the first person you need to convince it WAS self-defense is your attorney.'  And if he understands the subject, he'll be able to look at it and say 'no it wasn't so here is why you shouldn't claim self-defense.'

Beginning to see why simple statements like, get your lawyer and don't talk to the cops aren't true?

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QUESTION: I've read before that although you should answer truthfully any question your defense attorney asks of you in private,you should avoid confessing(if you are truly guilty)and volunteering unasked/un-requested info. (correct me if I'm wrong on the latter,though)
I now understand why,because this changes the strategy from "proving your innocence" to "minimizing costs/damages via plea bargain" (defending someone you know is guilty is called "perjury" I believe,and its against the law)

I understand the rest of what you wrote(esp. not claiming self-defense right off the bat before speaking to your lawyer) but I need to ask more. Is it true that you can refuse a police search? (house,car,etc.) and that its actually advisable to do so even if you don't possess anything that could get you in trouble? (or so you think)

I suppose I'll end this message by asking if you could recommend a few books for a layman on this subject. (free preferably,but I'm willing to pay for quality info if there is none)

ANSWER: The answer is it depends.

It depends on what state you're in, what the circumstances, what paperwork the cop is holding, it depends on what the cop has said.

Start here for some baseline information

It has some really important information about once the cop has said...

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QUESTION: I did some research about this topic,and I ended up stumbling into these 2 videos:

The youtube channel that posted these 2 vids(Flex Your Rights),really seemed to have done a good job. But of course,I know that 2 youtube videos is no replacement for actual legal advise. (I did additional research as well,the bill of rights applies in my country as well. I also asked my sister who studies at a high class university to confirm this for me)
The 2 videos are kinda long,and you don't have to watch them if you don't want to. just wanted to show you what I found. They definitely match your blog's advise though.

The last question I would like to ask is,what do you think about recording the police during an encounter?
watch this video first:
posted by the same channel,but the vid is not long at all.

The reason I ask this is bec it seems video recording is the best way to prevent police misconduct/abuse. or even if it doesn't,it will help you in court later on. (i.e Cop searches your house despite your refusal to consent,this will come up.)

Like everything else, it depends

If you are being an asshole about it, you're going to run into problems. If the cops are corrupt you're going to run into problems. If you are interfering with the cops doing their job there's going to be problems.

If you know how to play the game, (and are doing some illegal shit) then you can use it to get the case dismissed -- but know they'll have counters.

If you acted in self-defense, I recommend not making a statement until you're in the police station and have the interview recorded so you can introduce evidence that can't get lost in the report. There's a record of you saying it and the cop not writing it down or pursuing that in the investigation. But that's a legal issue

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Too numerous to list here. My CV (for my expert witness work in court) is at

Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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