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Early Response to SYG Laws in Louisiana

This bill, to ease SYG in Louisiana, is interesting in what it requires:

The bill, which received unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary C Committee, would require a “full investigation” by law enforcement and coroners in any death that results from violence or under suspicious circumstances in which a claim of self-defense is raised.

So only when self-defense is raised should we expect a full and thorough investigation? Someone is found face down in a swamp, and we can short change that investigation, eh Senator? This sounds like a mandate that the police be competent, and how do you enforce that? Another bill has already failed in committee:

Another bill inspired by Martin’s killing, Senate Bill 719, did not make it out of committee. Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, said her bill was aimed at closing a potential loophole in the stand your ground law that would allow people to start a fight, try to withdraw and then claim self-defense if the other person continued to come after them.

That’s a “loophole?” I believe traditionally, and correct me if I’m wrong, you lawyers out there, but you could always regain faultlessness if you attempted to retreat from the fight, but your opponent kept pressing the fight.

And that is my big fear, but also a bit of a comfort; that our opponents will not merely try to repeal SYG, but will try to gut self-defense laws even further. It is a fear, because I always worry they could be successful. It is a comfort, because this kind of overreach is what’s ruined their fortunes in the past.

3 Responses to “Early Response to SYG Laws in Louisiana”

  1. Harry Schell says:

    CA law and even the Model Penal Code cover the “last aggressor” situation. You can start a fight (stupid to begin with, yes, it is), make clear your disengagement by retreat and informing your opponent you are no longer a threat. IF the opponent pursues you, the opponent has started another fight. Use of lethal force is a valid defense in that case.

    The bill proscribing such a defense goes against settled law in states which still have law about a “duty to retreat”. She needs to do a little homework.

  2. Cymond says:

    I’m unfamiliar with any particular state laws, but I’m under the impression that some SYG laws allow a defender to fire at a fleeing aggressor. The logic is that the aggressor may return.

    Such a system would close the ‘loophole’ in favor of self-defense.

    • Sebastian says:

      That doesn’t really have anything to do with SYG. In all states it’s unlawful to continue using force or deadly force on someone who is clearly disengaging from the fight. It’s not impossible to still claim self-defense if you shot an attacker in the back, but it will certainly complicate your legal defense. But that doesn’t have anything to do with SYG, it has to do with the fact that the standard for using deadly force is to be in reasonable fear of grave bodily injury or death, and once someone breaks off the attack and runs, you can no longer have reasonable fear.

      If you shoot someone who’s fleeing, you’re going to end up having to convince a jury why your still feared grave bodily injury or death, and why that fear was reasonable. It’s not an impossible hurdle to climb, but it’s not something to invite on yourself either. If you ever have to use deadly force, you shoot until the threat stops. That’s as far as one may go legally.

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