by Marty Hayes, President
As the Network grows (over 10,500 as of this writing) we receive an increasing number of calls and e-mail questions asking how Network members can access the benefits of the Network while traveling and in their home areas, too. Consequently, the lead article for this month will describe in detail this facet of Network membership benefits. While the topic is in the spot light, we will, in addition, attempt to educate members about the realities of interacting with the police and courts after a self-defense incident, whether on the road or at home. Let’s first discuss at home.
If you live in an area where the Network has one or more Network Affiliated Attorneys, (click http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/members/affiliated-attorneys to see list for your home state—member log in required) then we would strongly recommend getting to know them before a self-defense incident. This can be as simple as a ten-minute meeting, or lunch, or a full consultation.
Then, that attorney (assuming you and the lawyer agree to it) will become your go-to attorney after a self-defense incident. The attorney, being a full member of the Network knows that he or she will be paid an up-front deposit against fees by the Network to start your legal representation if you call him or her for help after a self defense use of force. In rare circumstances, the attorney may require you, the member, to pay an initial deposit. If that occurs, the Network will reimburse up to $10,000 of that amount.
If you have not yet sought out and made friends with a local attorney, but have had to use force in self defense, all is not lost. That is when you look at the back of your membership card, on which you will find two phone numbers. The first phone number, our office phone number, is the number you will call during the business day. I usually do not have the Network cell phone with me during the workday, so to reach the Network, call the office number first. If a call for assistance comes in during the day, then we will drop everything we are doing and help you whether by connecting you with one of the Network Affiliated Attorneys in your state, or with a non-Network attorney we locate in your area. Please understand that this might take a little while, which is why we would prefer you have your own attorney ready to call. Let’s use a recent incident involving one of our members as an example.
Recently, a member was forced to shoot and kill a home invader. This happened in the early morning hours, and of course the police were called. While the police were on-site investigating the homicide, the member called the Network. I talked with him, and found out that he had not yet secured an attorney. While on the phone with him, I told him that I would contact an attorney or two and have them get in touch with him directly. Within an hour after the call, our member was linked up with an attorney from his area. He asked us to pay the attorney $10,000 to begin representing him and we happily did so. Within another hour, that attorney was on the scene interacting with police and the news media.
In summary, at home, your first priority should be to locate a local attorney and have them available for you to call. But if that cannot or has not been accomplished, the Network will reach out to local Network Affiliated Attorneys and arrange for the member and an attorney to meet, and if they agree, to form an attorney-client relationship.
If there is no Network Affiliated Attorney in your immediate vicinity, we will get busy in the office contacting other members or local instructors, to get a referral. And, if that doesn’t prove fruitful, a Network representative–probably myself–will fly to your location, meet with you and/or your family and help you find a local attorney to provide representation as described at http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/boots-on-the-ground (member log in required).
Members, should you and I be involved in any of the preceding options, I will be urging you to remember that you should not give any formal statements to police investigators until you have legal representation. So, that deals with accessing Network benefits while at home, but what about on the road?
Well, being on the road, having travelled away from your home locale, means that you don’t have access to your own, pre-selected attorney. Beyond that, the Network’s assistance to you is provided in just the same way as described on page one. Since you likely will not have an attorney of your own to call, then you would call the Network (as outlined on the previous page) and we get to work on your behalf, either finding an attorney through our resources, or getting on a plane and flying to your location. In preparation, however, there is one thing you can do for yourself: look at the list of Network Affiliated Attorneys for the states you will be traveling through, and print them out and take that list with you. Then, you will have a head start on the process if you ever find yourself in a strange location, needing legal representation.
Please understand that the Network does not try to force you into a one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter approach to providing access to Network benefits. That is by design, because we know that each person and each circumstance will be different. Between 2008 and 2016, we have provided benefits for twelve Network members upon their request after a use of force in self-defense incident. In one case, a mother called, in another case, I learned of the situation when a father telephoned. Most cases found the member calling some time after the incident, ranging from a couple of hours to a couple of days. How could we be satisfied with providing just one approach to handling member requests for services? It simply would not work.
Now, you may be thinking that it would be a lot easier if you could just call a number and have an attorney show up to represent you. And in fact, some aftermath legal plans promise just that. If you don’t care about the quality of legal representation you receive, then I guess that is an option. However, when I started this organization, I knew that I wanted a program where I could select my own attorney, and frankly, fire that attorney if I didn’t think the legal representation was what I thought it should be. When you buy into a pre-paid legal scheme, where the company promises to provide you with an attorney, then that is what you are buying. Realistically, how can that company promise, with a straight face, that they will provide the best legal representation available? To do that, they would have to have vetted every attorney in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred, and then objectively rated the skills of all the attorneys before that claim has any validity. Any claims such as this are pure puffery.
We also want to make sure that you, our Network members, understand that whomever you decide to hire, that is ENTIRELY your decision. We may suggest the name or names of attorneys, but you are the person who is ultimately in charge of your legal representation, and if it goes to court, you also have the final say in your legal defense. The only other way that you could be totally in charge of your legal defense is if you foot the bill yourself, as some insurance type products require, which then promise to reimburse you the legal fees after a not guilty verdict. Obviously, there are major problems with that system, and many of our members have expressed that there is no way they have a hundred grand in cash lying around and available to pay for attorneys, investigators and experts. I know I don’t.
So, where does that leave us? Knowledge is power, and having the understanding of how the Network provides your post-incident assistance is the first step in having the power to successfully resolve a legal issue after using force in self defense. For your sake, we sincerely hope you never have to use our after-incident support, but you can sleep well at night knowing that if you do, you will have help. Keep your membership card with you, and if needed, call the after-hours emergency number or during business hours, call our office number. That one phone call starts the process, regardless of whether you are at home or on the road.
Click here to return to February 2016 Journal to read more.