LAw regarding armed robbery - what does "imminent" mean?

CHL discussions that do not fit into more specific topics

Moderators: Charles L. Cotton, carlson1

User avatar

oljames3
Senior Member
Posts in topic: 3
Posts: 2714
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:21 pm
Location: Elgin, Texas
Contact:

Re: LAw regarding armed robbery - what does "imminent" mean?

#16

Post by oljames3 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:17 pm

RSX11 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:00 pm
If something already happened, it's no longer imminent.
Well, that's the crux of my question, though - when is the imminent armed robbery over? When the wallet is surrendered? When the guy turns to leave? When he's a dozen feet away? Tomorrow?
When the "armed robbery" is over is not the main issue for the self defender who wants to successfully claim self defense in court. The issue, according to attorney Andrew Branca https://lawofselfdefense.com/blog/, is the imminence of the deadly threat.
The element of imminence requires that a use of force against another can only be lawful if the attack being defended against is an imminent attack—one either actually taking place or about to take place right now.
Once the attacker turns and runs, the attack is over. If you, the victim of the original attack, then use deadly force on the fleeing thief, you have started a new fight in which you are the attacker. Andrew explains this clearly in his blog and his book, The Law of Self Defense.
https://lawofselfdefense.com/product/la ... d-edition/
O. Lee James, III Captain, US Army (Retired 2012), Honorable Order of St. Barbara
2/19FA, 1st Cavalry Division 73-78; 56FA BDE (Pershing) 78-81
NRA Distinguished Life Member (Disabled Vet), TSRA, NAR L1


Mike S
Senior Member
Posts in topic: 2
Posts: 449
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:08 pm
Contact:

Re: LAw regarding armed robbery - what does "imminent" mean?

#17

Post by Mike S » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:54 am

RSX11 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:41 am
I was reading a news article about a recent armed robbery in Houston, and it made me wonder about a point in the law. A guy was loading groceries into his hatchback when he noticed an armed man was standing next to him. The robber pointed the gun at him and demanded his wallet, which he handed over. The gunman then took off.

Use of deadly force law says you can use deadly force to prevent the imminent commission of an armed robbery. If the victim chose to pull out a gun and shoot the robber in the back right as he was leaving - does that occur during the "imminent" part of the armed robbery? Or would it be considered to be part of attempting to recover property after the commission of the armed robbery? I figure he'd be good one way or the other, but I wondered which part of the law applied in this situation.
Firstly, my response is based on the Texas Penal Code, so other states will vary (Texas addresses this specifically, whereas most states I've looked at don't). Secondly, my Bachelor's in Criminal Justice is way short of being a lawyer.
Thirdly, I'm not advocating for or against shooting someone in the back after being the victim of a crime. I'm just laying out what Texas law actually says on the matter, from my non-lawyer perspective (ie, I'm-not-going-to-be-the-one-having-to-defend-you-in-court).

Robbery is listed under both TPC 9.32 (Deadly Force in Self Defense), AND in TPC 9.42 (Deadly Force in Defense of Property).

Under TPC 9.32, Robbery is listed as one of the offenses where your 'belief' that deadly force is immediately necessary is 'presumed reasonable'. (To be justified in using force/deadly force, a reasonable person standing in your shoes would need to believe that level of force is 'immediatly necessary'. This part of the statute basically says that when defending against certain crimes (murder/rape/robbery/burglary/home invasion/car jacking), that the 'belief that force/deadly force is immediately necessary' is already presumed to be reasonable). So, if he had used deadly force while the robber was in the act of robbing him (and absent any other factors that would neuter the victims self defense claim), it may have been justified. After the robbery was complete (ie, victim no longer in jeopardy), I would argue his 9.32 justification may have expired (again, barring absence of any other behavior threatening the defender with unlawful deadly force, or otherwise presumed reasonable).

Under 9.42, the justification to use deadly force to prevent a robbery is clearly listed. Again, once the robbery is over I would argue so is the justification for deadly force 'to prevent the robbery'. However, 9.42 also provides you with the justification of using deadly force to recover your property immediately following a robbery 'if using a lesser amount of force' to recover your property would put you or others at risk of death/serious bodily injury. So, if a lesser amount of force could be used and not put the defender at a significant risk of death/serious bodily injury, the justification might not be available.

I believe the recovery of property immediately after the robbery section of 9.42 is where the hypothetical you proposed would fall under, however it isn't always cut & dry. In your example the robber had a handgun, so I would like to think it would be easily understood that 'using a lesser amount of force' would put you at risk of death/serious bodily injury while exercising your right to recover your property. However, if the robber wasn't armed, and was of similar stature/ability as you, then you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you shot them while recovering your property.


Mike S
Senior Member
Posts in topic: 2
Posts: 449
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:08 pm
Contact:

Re: LAw regarding armed robbery - what does "imminent" mean?

#18

Post by Mike S » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:09 am

oljames3 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:17 pm
The element of imminence requires that a use of force against another can only be lawful if the attack being defended against is an imminent attack—one either actually taking place or about to take place right now.
Once the attacker turns and runs, the attack is over. If you, the victim of the original attack, then use deadly force on the fleeing thief, you have started a new fight in which you are the attacker. Andrew explains this clearly in his blog and his book, The Law of Self Defense.
https://lawofselfdefense.com/product/la ... d-edition/
I believe this would apply under 9.31 & 9.32; once the justification for force is removed, you no longer are justified in using force against your attacker. If you chase after them or continue the attack, you are now the aggressor (as the example used by Andrew in the lady who was charged for chasing down/shooting at the 2x women who had attacked her. She may have been justified in producing her lawfully carried handgun, but wasn't justified in chasing them around the store & shooting at them after they ran away).

However, under 9.42 you have some justification for using force/deadly force in recovering your property if immediately after the robbery.


dlh
Senior Member
Posts in topic: 1
Posts: 699
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:16 pm

Re: LAw regarding armed robbery - what does "imminent" mean?

#19

Post by dlh » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:45 am

Many of these close questions of fact are ultimately jury questions for a jury to decide.
There are cases of a robber taking your wallet by force then he takes a few steps away and shoots you.
As rotor pointed out robbers are unpredictable.
Distance is certainly a factor. If the robber is 500 yards away and you tried a "sniper" shot then that would be more problematic than if he was five feet away with his back turned.
I would think District Attorneys have to take a very close look at the facts then decide whether to present the case to a grand jury and ultimately to a petit jury.
Juries also disagree among themselves which is why you see mistrials on occasion.
Please know and follow the rules of firearms safety.

User avatar

oljames3
Senior Member
Posts in topic: 3
Posts: 2714
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:21 pm
Location: Elgin, Texas
Contact:

Re: LAw regarding armed robbery - what does "imminent" mean?

#20

Post by oljames3 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:27 am

Mike S wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:09 am
oljames3 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:17 pm
The element of imminence requires that a use of force against another can only be lawful if the attack being defended against is an imminent attack—one either actually taking place or about to take place right now.
Once the attacker turns and runs, the attack is over. If you, the victim of the original attack, then use deadly force on the fleeing thief, you have started a new fight in which you are the attacker. Andrew explains this clearly in his blog and his book, The Law of Self Defense.
https://lawofselfdefense.com/product/la ... d-edition/
I believe this would apply under 9.31 & 9.32; once the justification for force is removed, you no longer are justified in using force against your attacker. If you chase after them or continue the attack, you are now the aggressor (as the example used by Andrew in the lady who was charged for chasing down/shooting at the 2x women who had attacked her. She may have been justified in producing her lawfully carried handgun, but wasn't justified in chasing them around the store & shooting at them after they ran away).

However, under 9.42 you have some justification for using force/deadly force in recovering your property if immediately after the robbery.
Agreed. The aggravated robbery has two components that I see. There is the assault, against which Texas law permits you to use deadly force, and the actual robbery, against which Texas law permits you to use deadly force under strict conditions. I am more concerned with the assault and the imminence thereof as it pertains to a successful claim of self defense.
O. Lee James, III Captain, US Army (Retired 2012), Honorable Order of St. Barbara
2/19FA, 1st Cavalry Division 73-78; 56FA BDE (Pershing) 78-81
NRA Distinguished Life Member (Disabled Vet), TSRA, NAR L1

Post Reply

Return to “General Texas CHL Discussion”