The first thing you should know about a self-defense incident is that the police are going to arrive. After a shooting, they’ll be responding to a “shots fired” call and will come in not knowing who the good guy is and who the bad guy is.

Make them aware that you’re the good guy! Win the race to 911 and remember that everyone is afraid when responding to a gun call. Remain calm and follow all commands. You may end up handcuffed and on the ground. Your gun, which you should have put down immediately when you saw the flashing red and blue, will be taken into evidence.

Your Rights After a Self-Defense Incident

Before your attorney arrives, the only thing you should say is, “I was the victim of an assault. This is what the bad guy looks like. He went that way.” Point out anything that may appear benign but is actually a piece of evidence. And then shut your mouth.

Leave the rest of what you say up to an experienced criminal defense attorney. You should also be aware that the circumstances for when you have to be given the Miranda warning are actually very limited. Don’t wait for the police to read you your Miranda rights! After giving them the above information, tell the investigating officers that you would like to cooperate but are waiting for your attorney.

After an emotional and high-adrenaline event such as a self-defense shooting, you are not thinking logically. Your timeline is probably jumbled. You are probably forgetting things. In fact, your brain may be filling in the blanks with fictional memories. Give yourself time to sort it all out, and have an attorney help you with that untangling.

This Is Not Hollywood

Your attorney, despite what Law & Order has led you to believe, is not going to kick in the door of the jail or the interrogation room and tell the detectives to leave. You need to raise your own rights. No one can do it for you.

Most often, unless there is a flight risk, police will do a “book and release” after your interview. It’s difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen or how long you will be held, but it will be longer than a 55-minute episode of a cop show leads you to believe. The process can be easier if you avoid critical errors, however. Assuming you did the right thing and it was a good shoot, the right training and knowledge can help to make the aftermath of a self-defense incident easier.

Next Week: Demystifying the Criminal Court Process

Check back next week when we’ll break down and demystify the court process.

6 Things You Didn't Know Guide

About the USCCA

Since 2003, the United States Concealed Carry Association has proudly supported a community of hundreds of thousands of patriots. The USCCA is the largest and fastest-growing association with the sole focus of providing training, education and legal protection to responsibly armed Americans. Headquartered in West Bend, Wisconsin, the USCCA has more than 420,000 members and 2 million newsletter subscribers. It’s our mission to arm our loyal members with the tools they need to safely and confidently protect themselves and their loved ones with the utmost peace of mind.

The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. Members and the concealed carry community and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and, as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer for a specific case.