Daily Archives: March 28, 2007

Texas removes duty to retreat

Edit: Okay, upon a further reading of the bill, it seems to me that the bill does two things:

  1. It removes the duty to retreat from buildings and vehicles. No longer do you have to try to retreat before retaliating.
  2. It creates a legal assumption that an intruder is there to cause death or great bodily harm and that victims have the right to use deadly force.

It is point 2 that I have the greatest problem with. That is a dangerous assumption to make.

Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill that removes the duty to retreat and permits Texans to use deadly force in defending themselves in their homes, cars or workplaces.

The bill states that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force. The building or vehicle must be occupied at the time for the deadly force provision to apply, and the person using force cannot provoke the attacker or be involved in criminal activity.

“The right to defend oneself from an imminent act of harm should not only be clearly defined in Texas law, but it is intuitive to human nature. You ought to be able to protect yourself,” Perry said.

What he’s missing is the point of the duty to retreat (brief Wikipedia blurb). The duty exists so as to avoid deadly force where possible. According to the duty to retreat, if you can get away from the attacker, you should, thereby obviating the need to retaliate using deadly force. Now we will have a free for all. Alaska, Florida and Kansas are among some other states that have passed similar legislation.

When Florida passed similar legislation in 2005, there was intense discussion on this blog. Here are the posts from way back when:

  1. Meet force with force: FL’s new self-defense statute
  2. Meet force with force: FL’s new self-defense statute – II

Reading the above posts should give you a good sense of how I felt back in the day and there is some very interesting discussion on those pages. Mike was disappointed with me then and I suspect he still will be disappointed, because I still don’t think it’s a good idea.

I looked to Grits to see if he had any comments on this, but there weren’t any I could locate. If I missed them, please leave a comment here with the link.

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Connecticut’s “secret” sex offender registry

After the sentencing last week of a 27-year-old man, CT’s “secret” sex offender registry came to light. This is a registry that is visible on the internet only to public safety officials. Defendants can request the court to be put on this version of the registry and in very limited circumstances, the court allows it.

The statute says in part that shielded registration is available when there is a family relationship between the offender and the victim, and if the court finds that “publication of the registration information would be likely to reveal the identity of the victim.”

The court also must find that the dissemination of the registration isn’t required for public safety.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a big deal. The provision’s prime goal is the protection of the victim’s identity. Offenders still have to register and if anyone wants, they can walk into the department of public safety’s office and ask about an individual and they will be told if they are on any registry. As of the end of February, 4,529 people were on the public registry and 41 on the “secret” registry. That’s 0.89% of the total number of people required to register.

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