Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by MDJschool View Post
    What is a felon?

    Suppose I see someone possessing a machinegun or a firearm with an altered, changed, removed or obliterated manufacturer's number. I tell them that I am arresting them for a felony. They run. They run forever. I can just shoot him in the back, right?

    When is a felon not a felon?

    "A private person in fresh pursuit of one who has committed a felony may arrest without a warrant. And in Pennsylvania we have always followed the common law rule that if the felon flees and his arrest cannot be effected without killing him, the killing is justified. We hasten to note that before the use of deadly force is justified the private person must be in fresh pursuit of the felon and also must give notice of his purpose to arrest for the felony if the attending circumstances are themselves insufficient to warn the felon of the intention of the pursuing party to arrest him.
    The common law principle that a killing necessary to prevent the escape of a felon is justifiable developed at a time when the distinction between felony and misdemeanor was very different than it is today. Statutory expansion of the class of felonies has made the common law rule manifestly inadequate for modern law.2 Hence, the need for a change or limitation in the rule is indicated. We therefore hold that from this date forward the use of deadly force by a private person in order to prevent the escape of one who has committed a felony or has joined or assisted in the commission of a felony is justified only if the felony committed is treason, murder, voluntary manslaughter, mayhem, arson, robbery, common law rape, common law burglary, kidnapping, assault with intent to murder, rape or rob, or a felony which normally causes or threatens death or great bodily harm. We also note that for the use of deadly force to be justified it remains absolutely essential, as before, that one of the enumerated felonies has been committed and that the person against whom the force is used is the one who committed it or joined or assisted in committing it. If the private citizen acts on suspicion that such a felony has been committed, he acts at his own peril. For the homicide to be justifiable, it must be established that his suspicion was correct."
    Commonwealth v. Chermansky, 430 Pa. 170, 173-174 (Pa. 1968) (citations and footnotes omitted). http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...13411915377100
    Yeppers.

    Chermansky's definition is how many other states define the same issue. In those states those crimes are called "forcible felonies". I agree with Chermansky, there are many felonies today that do not warrant shooting someone over. But those forcible type felonies that were enumerated in Chermansky without a doubt should allow shooting the fleeing perp if there is no risk of injuring an innocent bystander.
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot, dregan, Frenchy.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by customloaded View Post
    Yes, that doctrine (fleeing felon) was not law per se but was old and outdated doctrine, nothing to do with Federal Law. Reseach Tennesse v Garner and that case will shed some light on this subject. The case brought about what is now referred to "FLeeing Felon Rule."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_v._Garner

    http://www.4lawschool.com/criminal/garner.htm

    http://supreme.justia.com/us/471/1/case.html

    CL
    Garner was a civil restriction on police action. It left things open to the states to decide. Michigan's Supreme Court ruled after Garner that it's own laws govern what the average citizen may do - which the Fleeing Felon may still be killed. Nevada ruled that citizens may not. With those unchallenged in the US Supreme Court, PA's Chermansky ruling stands as the governing policy in Pennsylvania - and it was cited again in 2005 by PA's Supreme Court in Kopko v Miller. You can in deed shoot fleeing felons if you cannot effect an arrest of the enumerated crimes from Chermansky in PA.
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot, dregan, Frenchy.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by knight0334 View Post
    You can in deed shoot fleeing felons if you cannot effect an arrest of the enumerated crimes from Chermansky in PA.
    Chermansky is not the be-all and end-all to shooting some probable forcible felon. I suspect that "and his arrest cannot be effected without killing him" has been developed in the meanwhile, as to the point that 'cannot be effected' is reached. Anyone put into the position is going to be subjected by the prosecution to the findings of US and other states' courts anyway, so it is probably advisible to not shoot people on the basis that 'he runs a bit faster than I do.'

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by MDJschool View Post
    Chermansky is not the be-all and end-all to shooting some probable forcible felon. I suspect that "and his arrest cannot be effected without killing him" has been developed in the meanwhile, as to the point that 'cannot be effected' is reached. Anyone put into the position is going to be subjected by the prosecution to the findings of US and other states' courts anyway, so it is probably advisible to not shoot people on the basis that 'he runs a bit faster than I do.'
    I do not disagree. There are certainly other factors to consider. Like, is the perp likely to harm another in his efforts to flee? Is he likely to harm another in the commission of another crime afterwards? Can you prove without a doubt that the crime you are pursuing him for is one of the enumerated offenses? Do you have a large bankroll to pay for a defense? Do you live in a "blue" area of the state? Is your DA anti-gun? Are the police hot on the scene, and likely to catch him before he harms another or gets away?

    But if the stars are in alignment - you can legally use deadly force on a fleeing felon of those enumerated crimes in PA. The mistaken reference to Gardner is a civil limitation on police powers, not on the state's power to regulate common law civilian arrests.

    Pop a fleeing felon in Philly and you may be thrown in lockup for life. Shoot a fleeing felon in Podunk, PA and you may get a critiquing of your grouping by the police, the key to the borough, and a parade in your honor.
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot, dregan, Frenchy.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    Youre sitting on your front porch. Someone drives by in a beat-up looking car without any particular identifying markers. They reach their arm out the window as they drive by your house and put a flyer inside your mailbox. This is a felony. You notice they have no license plate. They're in a car, you're on foot. You have no way to persue or to report them to the authorities for a later arrest. You level your .308 and take the shot.

    Justified?

    Completely hypothetical situation and response for the sake of discussion. I would not do or condone doing the above actions.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by ByblosHex View Post
    Youre sitting on your front porch. Someone drives by in a beat-up looking car without any particular identifying markers. They reach their arm out the window as they drive by your house and put a flyer inside your mailbox. This is a felony. You notice they have no license plate. They're in a car, you're on foot. You have no way to persue or to report them to the authorities for a later arrest. You level your .308 and take the shot.

    Justified?

    Completely hypothetical situation and response for the sake of discussion. I would not do or condone doing the above actions.

    No. To qualify it must be one of the enumerated felonies in the Chermansky case. The old rule did allow that because at one time the possible punishment for any felony was the death penalty. With modern law, much lenient sentences are imposed for most felonies. Only the felonies that risk the life of another allow you to apply the "fleeing felon" rule.


    "A private person in fresh pursuit of one who has committed a felony may arrest without a warrant. And in Pennsylvania we have always followed the common law rule that if the felon flees and his arrest cannot be effected without killing him, the killing is justified. We hasten to note that before the use of deadly force is justified the private person must be in fresh pursuit of the felon and also must give notice of his purpose to arrest for the felony if the attending circumstances are themselves insufficient to warn the felon of the intention of the pursuing party to arrest him.

    The common law principle that a killing necessary to prevent the escape of a felon is justifiable developed at a time when the distinction between felony and misdemeanor was very different than it is today. Statutory expansion of the class of felonies has made the common law rule manifestly inadequate for modern law.2 Hence, the need for a change or limitation in the rule is indicated. We therefore hold that from this date forward the use of deadly force by a private person in order to prevent the escape of one who has committed a felony or has joined or assisted in the commission of a felony is justified only if the felony committed is treason, murder, voluntary manslaughter, mayhem, arson, robbery, common law rape, common law burglary, kidnapping, assault with intent to murder, rape or rob, or a felony which normally causes or threatens death or great bodily harm. We also note that for the use of deadly force to be justified it remains absolutely essential, as before, that one of the enumerated felonies has been committed and that the person against whom the force is used is the one who committed it or joined or assisted in committing it. If the private citizen acts on suspicion that such a felony has been committed, he acts at his own peril. For the homicide to be justifiable, it must be established that his suspicion was correct."
    Commonwealth v. Chermansky, 430 Pa. 170, 173-174 (Pa. 1968) (citations and footnotes omitted). http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...13411915377100
    Last edited by knight0334; August 22nd, 2011 at 07:15 PM.
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot, dregan, Frenchy.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Fleeing Felon Rule?

    To me, what's bolded in Knights post is how it should be. I'm glad that's also how it is.

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