A common misconception is that you are legally liable for every bullet you fire in a self defense situation. That is not exactly the case. The answer to this is called the doctrine of transferred intent.

The simple reason is that the shooter (self-defense actor) was not the proximate cause of the harm to the innocent bystander. Although that may seem counter intuitive to say (given he was the one who actually fired the gun), it was in fact the attacker provoking the self-defense actor who caused the bystander harm.

In the legal world this is called the doctrine of transferred intent. It has been recited in numerous cases (see State v. Green, 157 W. Va. 1031, 1034, 206 S.E.2d 923, 926 (1974)).

I don’t want to steal any more of attorney Phil Nelson’s thunder or expertise on this. Check out this article at his excellent self defense blog here. Know the law. Stay out of jail.

Categories: Self Defense


oldvet50 · May 23, 2023 at 5:51 am

I think this would depend on which state the action occurred. It would also be dependent on the races of the actors involved in today’s social climate. I also used to think self-defense against deadly force was allowed in Texas.

Elrod · May 23, 2023 at 8:09 am

I suspect OldVet50 (above) is probably right; it may not be possible to be “right enough” to win such a case in Blue states, or even Blue cities in red or semi-red states.

Doctrine of Transferred Intent certainly seems like something to be discussed in detail with one’s attorney, or CCW insurer, well before it may be called into play. And, having that knowledge does not eliminate the need to employ prudence to avoid circumstances in which such expertise may be needed.

Michael · May 23, 2023 at 8:20 am

What old Vet 50 said, Assuming that the RULE OF LAW applies in any situation *might* find yourself deep into LAWFARE with some Soros’s OWNED DA and Liberal Judges chamber.

AND even if you “Win” you’re likely to be brought BACK UP for “Civil Rights” violations AND your Social Media comments (even here) might show up in Court to establish intent to “Do Something”. Ask Rittenhouse about that.

Stay away from crowds. Stay away from stupid people doing stupid things (that includes DO SOMETHING “Patriots”).

Ray Epps was a “Do SOMETHING “Patriot”, nuff said.

I have insurance for a stolen car. Do you have insurance against being the next poster child for “White Supremacy” in a Soro’s Courtroom?

    Divemedic · May 23, 2023 at 8:21 am

    Yes, yes, I do have carry insurance.

      Michael · May 23, 2023 at 1:26 pm

      Carry Insurance like home insurance is something you hope you never need.

      I ‘ve never heard of someone who had used Carry Insurance in court yet.

      The information they provide about avoiding shooting situations and how to speak to law enforcement seems solid.

Matthew · May 23, 2023 at 4:40 pm

It should be similar to when during an armed robbery, by 2 or more perps, if one (or more) reaches room temperature through victim or another armed defender action, the remaining perp(s) take a murder charge to boot.

Your CCW insurance won’t save you unless you know EXACTLY what to do & say to the authorities afterward. It’s a pretty easy thing to fuck up and needs to be practiced just like range work.

    Divemedic · May 23, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    The best thing is to say nothing. There is nothing that you can say 5 minutes after an event that will have a different outcome than saying it 5 hours later, after you talk to a lawyer.

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