Dealing with the aftermath
The following is NOT to be considered legal advice.
You have successfully dealt with your attacker, now what do you do? The situation is far from over; in fact, it may not be over for years. If you are involved in a self-defense altercation, take the following steps after the altercation has ended (if you are still alive and able).
Step to take in the aftermath
- Ensure there is no longer a threat. It is not over until you are no longer in danger. Do not assume the attacker is no longer a threat (unless he is dead). Stay away from the attacker. Always keep the attack in your sight. Be aware of other threats.
- Weapons. Secure any weapon the assailant used. If you have a weapon, put it away and keep it out of sight. Police have shot innocent people because they were holding weapons when the officers arrived. When the police arrive, immediately tell them about the weapon and carefully do everything they say without protest.
- Check yourself for injuries. In the heat of battle, you may not realize you are injured until it is too late.
- When the assailant is no longer a threat. Depending on the circumstances, check the assailant for injuries and help as appropriate. Do not talk to the assailant or use abusive language. Do not touch the assailant if he or she appears dead; they may be faking it.
- Call the police as soon as possible. Tell them what has taken place and your location. Ask for emergency medical assistance. Give basic information, but do not give too many details about the incident over the phone. Anything you say may be used as evidence against you. In some locales, even saying you are sorry may be used against you.
- Call your lawyer. Make no statements to the police or anyone else until your attorney is present. If possible, call your lawyer as soon as possible after calling for the police and try to have your lawyer meet you at the scene. Tell the lawyer exactly what happened and let him or her do the talking for you. If you must meet the police by yourself, do not make any statements other than basic information. Explain to the police politely, but firmly, that you will not talk about the incident until your attorney arrives.
- Check out the scene. Make a complete check of the scene for things that collaborate your story but do not touch or tamper with anything. Do not let anyone else handle any potential evidence.
- Identify witnesses. They may be the only ones to help you prove what happened.
- When the police arrive. Try to spot them first and attract them in a non-threatening manner. At first, the police may treat you like a suspect, especially if you have a weapon. Do as you are told. Do not question or argue with them. Do not make any unnecessary movements.
- Remain silent. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and anything you do or say can, and probably will be used against you in a court of law. Police officers know that, in these circumstances, it is to stay silent and wait for your lawyer, but they may try to make you feel guilty for not talking to them. No police officer involved in a police shooting would make a statement without a police union lawyer or a Fraternal Order of Police attorney present, so you need to do the same. The police will be on your side when all the facts are out, so be polite but do not be overly concerned about their initial negative impression of your silence.
- Tachypsychia. After defending yourself, you will probably be suffering from what is known as adrenal-induced tachypsychia. This can cause time distortion, time loss, memory distortion, and memory loss. You may also feel the innate urge to talk if only to justify your actions. All of this may affect your ability to make an objective statement to any law enforcement officer. Any statement you make may be used against you later, so the best option is to say nothing. If desired, upon the advice of an attorney, you may make a statement later.
- Medical treatment. When medical assistance arrives, get medical treatment for shock for yourself and any other person involved whether physically injured or not.
- Stay away from the news media. Never talk or make any sort of statement to the news media; they are not your friends. Let your attorney make any statements for you. Remember the news media has no authority; you do not have to talk to them.
- Legal actions. You are justified in using lethal force only if you "feared for your life" or that of another person. Do not apologize for defending yourself. Avoid statements such as "I am sorry I had to hurt him," or "I regret the incident happened." Such statements are equated with feelings of guilt. Since you are showing remorse, it is assumed your actions were inappropriate. Such statements may be used against you in a court of law.
- Stress. Persons involved in self-defense incidents face a great amount of stress. Psychological or physiological problems may later appear. These problems are common and affect even trained soldiers and law enforcement officers. If you encounter any problems, seek professional help.