We recently were set up to go to a meeting, with people flying in for this event. Unfortunately, the person with whom we were to meet was in the hospital, so all the travel and preparation was for naught.
The hospitalization came about because the day before the man went to pick up his daughters at his ex-wife’s home to take them into Gotham for the day. For reasons not relevant to this article, the ex-wife apparently decided she didn’t want the daughters to go, and called a neighbor. The neighbor – formerly the neighbor of the husband – came over, dragged the father from the car, and beat him up in front of the daughters, sufficiently badly to require hospitalization (and missing our meeting).
Now, you can defend yourself, and those under your direct care, if you reasonably feel that you are in danger. This generally means that you can verbalized why you felt your attacker had the opportunity to do you harm (he was close enough); Why your attacker had the ability to do you (he was bigger, was armed, etc); Why you reasonably felt you were jeopardy (he was threatening or attacking you, had a reputation for violence, etc); The actions you took in the way of preclusion (you tried to run away, talk him out of it, etc.).
The rules change a bit if you are not defending yourself or those under your direct care. To protect yourself you need to show that you had a reasonable belief that you faced death or grave bodily harm, with “reasonable” meaning that a reasonable person would agree with your assessment of opportunity, ability, jeopardy, and preclusion. If you are randomly intervening, however, your assessment has to be both reasonable and correct.
While there may be a certain charm when watching a good guy beat up or kill a bad guy on television or in the movies, violence in real life is never as gratifying or clean. In the movies someone gets beaten or shot and is fully functional by the end of the episode. In real life you may punch someone in the face and have them fall down, striking their head and dying. Or they may require a lifetime of physical (and emotional) therapy.
We don’t know how the attack that cancelled our meeting will affect the victim, the attacker, or the young girls who saw their father being beaten. But we would wager that the event will turn out to be a costly one for all involved in this needless event.