Hines v. Commonwealth, A Christmas Story

A merry Christmas from all of us to all of you, especially including a Norfolk citizen who lived in a five-year hell as a result of a legitimate self-defense shooting.  In Hines v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed a Norfolk trial court’s outrageous manslaughter conviction of Mr. Hines.  In so doing, the Virginia Supreme Court showed that it still stands as a firewall between you and overzealous, anti-gun prosecutors and judges who will try to condemn even the legitimate use of firearms for self-defense.  The not so merry news is that it took the legal system a very long time to sort through it all and correct its horrendous mistake.

Blind Justice

The Virginia Supreme Court’s decision issued in October 2016, but the case is sufficiently frightening and enlightening with respect to the current state of our Virginia judicial system to be worthy of re-telling now.  This is especially true in the wake of this November’s election results, which will only further perpetuate the anti-gun predisposition in many of the Commonwealth Attorney’s offices, and promises additional appointments of radically anti-gun judges to Virginia’s courts.

Imagine this scenario:  You and your wife are minding your own business in your home.  Your neighbor stops by, inebriated, and very upset.  Next thing you know, he is in your living room, enraged and belligerent.  He pulls out a handgun and brandishes it in a threatening manner.  You go to your bedroom and retrieve your own handgun, mistakenly thinking that if you just show your neighbor that you are armed too, he will calm down.  When you return to your living room displaying your handgun, your neighbor shows no signs of calming down, and points his handgun at you.  Left with no alternative, you fire five times and kill him.  You are arrested and the Commonwealth Attorney charges you with first degree murder.  Never mind that when you went to retrieve your firearm, your wife was still in the living room with the belligerent, handgun-brandishing neighbor.  And never mind that Virginia law permits you to defend your wife with deadly force against the threat presented by the armed, angry neighbor.

Man in Jail National Firearms Law Institute

You waive a jury trial hoping to get a fair shake by trying the case to a judge instead of a jury.  Incredibly, the judge sides with the Commonwealth Attorney and convicts you of voluntary manslaughter and shooting another person in the commission of a felony.  Apparently anti-gun activism is not limited to prosecutors – it also infects the trial bench in sunny Norfolk, Virginia.  Your case winds its way through the appellate process and more than five years after you lawfully defended yourself and your wife, the Supreme Court reverses your conviction and rules that your resort to a firearm was justified and lawful.

That’s precisely what happened to Mr. Hines, as can be seen in the Virginia Supreme Court’s opinion issued in October 2016.  The Court probably gave the Hines family the best Christmas they’d had in five years, but the case stands as a big warning sign that the legal system in much of Virginia (especially in northern Virginia) is not friendly to the use of firearms for self-defense.  

The law of self-defense courses we are presenting in northern Virginia specifically address the issues raised by the Hines case – Course I shows you when the defensive use of deadly force is permissible in Virginia, and Course II shows you critical steps you need to take to win and financially survive the legal battle that follows the defensive use of a firearm.  Give yourself the best holiday gift you ever got and sign up.

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