When Is Violence The Answer?
As long as the world has been around there has been violence. Cain slew Able with a rock, plus many deaths at the hands of others throughout the bible. The question is what constitutes the use of violence against another? I would like to discuss the North Carolina General Statutes that outlines exactly what is considered violence and the consequences of those and then the interpretations of violence from a biblical standpoint. I am not a biblical scholar or have any legal diplomas but only from a written word point of view. At the end I will list all sources at the of my article.
What is modern day assault as defined by North Carolina General Statutes (N.C.G.S.)?
§ 14-33. Misdemeanor assaults, batteries, and affrays, simple and aggravated; punishments.
(a) Any person who commits a simple assault or a simple assault and battery or participates in a simple affray is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
(b) Unless his conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who commits any assault, assault and battery, or affray is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor
(d) Any person who, in the course of an assault, assault and battery, or affray, inflicts serious injury upon another person, or uses a deadly weapon, in violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section, on a person with whom the person has a personal relationship, and in the presence of a minor, is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor. A person convicted under this subsection, who is sentenced to a community punishment, shall be placed on supervised probation in addition to any other punishment imposed by the court.
A person committing a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be sentenced to an active punishment of no less than 30 days in addition to any other punishment imposed by the court
*use links to read more on this statute
The above-mentioned general statutes are related to this article and are not copied in its entirety simply because the article would take days to read and understand.
What is the legal definition of self-defense by North Carolina General Statutes (N.C.G.S.)?
§ 14-51.3. Use of force in defense of person; relief from criminal or civil liability. (a) A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if either of the following applies: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. (2) Under the circumstances permitted pursuant to G.S. 14-51.2. (b) A person who uses force as permitted by this section is justified in using such force and is immune from civil or criminal liability for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties. (2011-268, s. 1.)
*use links to read more on this statute
So, what does all this mean? Unless you are an attorney it is really hard to understand exactly what all this means. But by reading these statutes you can start to understand what exactly has to happen to be justified in using violence against another. The above general statutes are good at understanding when you can use violence on another individual and for sake of argument, if you concentrate your efforts on the definition of self-defense you do not have to have to worry about the first general statutes mentioned because you should be able to distinguish that you felt fear and needed to defend yourself.
Where the lines get blurry!
Enter disorderly conduct! Disorderly conduct is where you can get yourself into some trouble. After giving you the article on what exactly self-defense is you need to understand how disorderly conduct comes into play. The biggest difference between self-defense and disorderly conduct is the attitude that you display when the altercation begins.
§ 14-288.4. Disorderly conduct.
(a) Disorderly conduct is a public disturbance intentionally caused by any person who does any of the following:
(1) Engages in fighting or other violent conduct or in conduct creating the threat of imminent fighting or other violence.
(2) Makes or uses any utterance, gesture, display or abusive language which is intended and plainly likely to provoke violent retaliation and thereby cause a breach of the peace.
*use links to read more on this statute
Disorderly conduct is where you need to understand how your own behavior plays a part in self -defense or catching a charge. Here are examples as to how not to get a charge and how you can end up in cuffs.
EXAMPLE #1 - You’re driving to work like any other day. You check your mirrors and don’t see anything as you execute a lane change, all the sudden there is a vehicle that was travelling above the speed limit and by their calculations you cut them off when you executed said lane change. The upset driver starts to honk their horn and throws you a bird while rolling their window down and continues to tell you what kind of bitch your mother is.
How to catch a charge in this scenario: You yell right back and tell them that their mother breeds children of the feline family and tell them to pullover. You exchange some more threats to one another and get into a fight. The cops get called and according to the law of disorderly conduct you have both broken the law along with some assault charges.
How not to catch a charge in this scenario: You ignore them or apologize and be the bigger person. This still doesn’t satisfy your new “street fighter T.V. trained friend and he continues to curse you for all that they think you’re worth. You continue to your place of work and they follow you the whole way wanting to “get up in that ass” for being a piece of trash driver. You get out of your vehicle to enter into your place of employment and they get out of their vehicle. Now here is where “not what it is but what it looks like” comes into play. Let’s say there are 3 people out in the parking lot taking a smoke break from 100 yds away but they see this going down in real time. Because we all know witnesses are the most reliable source of testimony. (This is normally a joke because eye witnesses actually have been proven to be the worst for testimony in trials. In most cases there is a tendency to add to the story which is why having a good attorney is paramount in dismantling eyewitness testimony if you are charged.) Back to the fight, you’re standing there you have to understand the game you’re playing. If I am standing there with clenched fists or my body language is suggesting that I am a willing participant, it could be argued that I engaged in disorderly conduct and assault. If I am standing there with my hands open and pointed toward the guy, to the eye witnesses now it looks more like my body language was saying I don’t want to fight. At the same-time you could be calmly cursing them and telling them to do something. (I don’t recommend doing that) But that is a decision you have to make. So, the guy won’t let up and comes at you in your personal space. This is also something that you have to define to yourself. (I like to define my personal space where I can be harmed with whatever the weapon is going to be. If it is a Knife I can say safely that more than 21 feet is my personal space, a gun of some sort it can be as far as 100 feet or more. If I see that the individual is just wanting to go fist-a-cuffs I will give them enough space that they can’t kick me. Once that space has been breached I will do whatever is necessary to stop their action. Stopping their action means exactly that. I will not stop doing what I need to do until the action of aggression ceases. Your assailant's words aren’t going to hurt you but weapons and fists can. Don’t get into a screaming match with your assailant. Remain calm and collected but in the words of Tim Kennedy “have a plan to kill everyone in the room” type of approach.
Once their actions stop you stop. This is the age of cameras everywhere. People are more inclined to stop and film instead of stop to help. While I think this could be considered the place in time where chivalry died, don’t assume anyone is going to help you. This is the most important thing I want you to take away from this article. If you go beyond what is necessary to stop your attacker you will get charged for a crime.
In closing, remember that only you can decide what your plan of action is going to be when faced with an aggressive person. Don’t think with your emotions in that moment, stay calm and when you can, always look for an out. But at the end of the day I would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.
Stache Actual Out
*I am not a lawyer. I have years of experience in law enforcement both in the civilian world and military. I consulted with other law enforcement officers as well to provide the most accurate legal information in this article. This article is a opinion piece. Consult with your attorney or your own local law enforcement f you have any questions.