A Costly Apology
It is a uniquely common and oftentimes involuntary response to say “I’m sorry” after a self-defense incident, but you never know how you will respond under the stress, shock, and adrenaline rush following such a life-altering event. Any statement uttered after a critical incident can have serious implications, but saying “I’m sorry” is a serious pitfall that will likely be held against you in a court of law.
In the eyes of law enforcement, bad guys rarely come out and confess. Therefore, in many instances, police and prosecutors rely on what they call “consciousness of guilt” to prove their case. Consciousness of guilt is anything the prosecution can find indicating the defendant knows they did something wrong.
If you say “I’m sorry” to the police or anyone else at the scene, it will come up in court; we see this all the time. The prosecutor will emphatically tell the jury you apologized because you knew you messed up, you knew you were in the wrong, and you knew you were guilty. The truth is, most people mean they are sorry they were put in a position where they had to hurt or kill someone to protect their life or the life of a loved one.
It is an unfortunate reality of the legal process; any time a person is forced to use deadly force, we frequently see prosecutors push hard for a conviction against the defender. This legal nightmare is one of the main reasons you should protect yourself with a U.S. LawShield membership.
Seek Legal Counsel First
The rules are stacked against the person who acted in self-defense. Unless you’ve been advised by an attorney, you shouldn’t give any statement to law enforcement. Most states require that you provide some limited information (e.g., name, date of birth, address), but you shouldn’t talk to anybody about the incident until you have consulted with your attorney.
Limiting your conversations about any incident even extends to your family and friends because, in many circumstances, they can be subpoenaed and forced to testify about anything you said to them about an incident. If a judge thinks you divulged anything to someone, they have the power to throw that person in jail if they don’t tell the court what was said.
U.S. LawShield members should constantly review and train in the best practices to follow after any self-defense incident. If you are questioned by law enforcement after a self-defense incident, be respectful but wait for your attorney before you speak to anyone; even if you’re handcuffed, put in a squad car, and taken to the police station before your lawyer arrives.
We have great resources on how to respond after a self-defense incident. Check out our videos on the 5 Steps To Surviving a 911 Call and After the Bang: What To Do When the Police Arrive. If you have any other questions, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.