When Death Occurs During an Event of Self-Defense: A Sample Scenario

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When someone breaks into your home, your life is now at stake. You cannot read another person’s mind to know if they will just leave your home after taking what they want, or if they will assault you and kill you as well. You must expect the worst and decide what to do within a few short seconds.

Your Steps to Self-Defense

  1. If you have your cell phone handy, call the police first. This should be your first step, unless you left your phone in another part of the house. Stay on the phone with the dispatcher and do not hang up. If you have a landline phone, do not disconnect after the call. Leave the receiver off to the side of the phone base.
  2. Prepare to defend your life (and family members) with any weapon available (i.e. baseball bat, firearm) if you are discovered. No matter how fast the response time is for the police to get there, the robber in your home can move faster because he/she is already there and has a good escape plan in place, including possible unseen accomplices. If the robber(s) has a weapon, you know that the intent in having one is to hurt or kill you to escape.
  3. If discovered and confronted, try to talk the person into leaving your home at once. Here is something important to remember. If you did call the police, leave the cell phone on and turn off the screen light after you tell the dispatcher where the police should come. If your phone is on, the dispatcher will continue to record the call and next series of events as standard practice. This may be a very valuable piece of defense for you if things go wrong. Be sure to speak in a loud voice if you had to put the phone in your robe pocket, for example, so that what you say can be recorded clearly.
  4. If the robber physically assaults you, you have the right to defend yourself in any manner you need to, to save your life. If a robber has a firearm, and you have one in your house that you can use, then use it to save yourself or your family members, whether you are registered or not to own it. You are covered for this under California’s Penal Code Section 198.5.

When the Police Arrive

If your phone is still on with the connected dispatcher, state out loud exactly what you are doing as you do it

            If you had to shoot and kill the robber, who is now laying on the floor, check your phone to see if the dispatcher is still there and when the police are expected to show up. Do not touch anything around the robber’s body or the room. Chances are that if there was anyone else in the house connected with the robber, they will have left already, but stay alert.

            When the police arrive, unload your firearm, place the ammunition on a table in the room, along with the unloaded and opened firearm in plain sight. If your phone is still on with the connected dispatcher, state out loud exactly what you are doing as you do it. The dispatcher will rely the information to the police outside. Then, open the door to let the police in. Never open a door to the police with a loaded firearm in your hand.

If you have been accused of self-defense homicide, call us at once for a consultation. (619) 234-2300

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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