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February 22, 2013


Richard Ferrer

Self defence relates to the possible murder conviction. If Pistorius is convicted of Culpable Homicide (i.e. negligently caused the death of a person without intention to kill) there is no minimum sentence but if the court finds him grossly negligent he could still get a lengthy prison term. To get a firearm licence one has to do a test and these matters are covered, so he can't claim ignorance on the seriousness of shooting through a toilet door. If he had shot once through the very top of the door in order to miss anyone inside, but to give them a serious fright, then that might be very different. I think the Pistorius debate is around the length of imprisonment rather than 'will he escape the clink?'

Paul Janisch

I don't see a culpable homicide case here at all. Murder is an intention crime, in other words did the person intend to kill somebody else. If Oscar shot through a door he must have known that those bullets would have killed the person behind the door. If the person had not been killed then there would be a charge of attempted murder. I have my doubts whether you could suggest negligence here.
The claim of self defence would say - ok you intended to kill (murder) that person but this is only because you felt as though your person was in life-threatening danger. Under these circumstances the court would say, you protected yourself and as such the murder is justified and you have not been found guilty of murder.

I don't think that he will go to jail at all and that he will be found guilty of murder.

Richard Ferrer

If Pistorius is convicted of murder or pre-meditated murder there are minimum sentences and he will get a long prison sentence.
The two primary issues here are self defence and intention. As Pierre de Vos says that he unlawfully killed someone is not in dispute. Pierre de Vos says that self defence is unlikely to be accepted by the court. I agree. Therefore it revolves around intention to get the lower conviction of culpable homicide (i.e. unlawfully killed someone without intention to kill) where there is no minimum sentence. However courts do typically impose prison sentences for gross negligence. That's why I think there is a very high probability that Pistorius will serve prison time. I studied all this in some detail before deciding to hand in all my firearms. There's no point defending oneself with a firearm and ending up in prison for years as a result. Other ways of personal defence against crime need to be found and followed.

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