Legal Services or Insurance Programs for the Lawfully Armed Citizen

One thing I stress to students in CHL class is that a person who uses a firearm in an act of self defense is still going to encounter the legal system. That might be a criminal trial where one would have to explain their actions as reasonable, immediately necessary, and justifiable under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the event occurred. Whether there are or aren’t criminal charges against a person who defended themselves, there is almost always a civil suit filed by the attacker or their surviving family members.

While the best course of action is to do everything within your power to avoid the use of deadly force, there are situations where there may be no other choice. And as the old saying goes, better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. However, that trial can cost people in many ways. Other than the emotional toll of coming to terms with the unnatural act of using deadly force against another human being, people often lose their job and spend their life savings on their legal defense. Even a person who isn’t convicted at criminal trial or ordered to pay a huge settlement in a civil suit can end up unemployed, homeless, and penniless.

This harsh reality has given rise to a number of services which offer some degree of protection to those who have used deadly force in defense of themselves or others. They tend not to be extremely expensive because few who pay for the service thankfully ever need to use that service. On the other hand, this also means these services are quite profitable for the providers. So, should you pay for such a service? And if so, what should you consider when selecting from the available programs? That isn’t easy and it is dependent on your personal situation.

There are two types of programs. The first type of program is a prepaid legal service. A network of attorneys that provide you legal defense through grand jury, criminal, and civil trials for justified acts of self defense. The second type of program is an insurance policy. In the event of an act of self defense, the policy pays you some dollar amount which can be used for legal defense or perhaps cover other expenses such as bail or perhaps even medical or household expenses.

Prepaid legal services provide an attorney who is [hopefully] experienced representing clients in self defense shooting cases. If you don’t have your own attorney in mind, that may be appealing. Keep in mind that your cousin the corporate counselor probably doesn’t have the expertise in the area of self defense. On the other hand, these networks are generally not nationwide so consider that you would only receive legal representation for acts of self defense which occur in a state where your particular network operates. If you travel to states where the network has no coverage, you would of course be responsible for your own legal defense. Prepaid legal services may provide you with an attorney, but consider that you’d need to have financial resources to cover your other household expenses if you are sitting in a jail cell awaiting trial. Carefully read the terms of these programs to be sure what circumstances they might exclude from coverage. For example, if you are in a state that doesn’t honor your permit, your policy may not cover your actions.

Insurance policies on the other hand pay out a fixed dollar amount in the event of an act of self defense. That money may or may not be enough to cover your legal expenses through a grand jury, criminal, and civil trial. It may or may not be enough money to cover your other expenses. And of course the monthly premium you pay affects the amount of money paid out. How long will it take for the policy to get the money in hand for you to hire an attorney, make bail, etc.? The insurance policy paying out means you need to know which attorney you would hire to represent you. You need legal counsel that is experienced in self defense cases. Ask your local police department who they would hire if one of their officers was on trial for shooting in the line of duty. Your freedom is on the line, so the quality and experience or your legal representation is critical.

There are more of these programs popping up and I have no experience nor affiliation with any of the programs. Here are the program of which I am aware.  There are undoubtedly countless more:

Prepaid legal services:
Texas Law Shield
Patriot Legal Protection

Insurance programs:
NRA Second Call Defense

Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network

Please evaluate each of these options carefully.  Read the terms and conditions.  Be aware of states or localities of coverage and limitations of the coverage.  I am not an attorney.  I do not represent or endorse any of these programs.

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