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Immediate vs imminent

SouthernBoy

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First off, the reason this thread was started in the Virginia forum is because it is a Virginia issue... not any other state. With that said, here goes.

There has been some discussion of recent times regarding the use of the words "immediate" and "imminent" as they relate to the use of deadly force in our state. In my cursory examination of some case law, I do not see the word immediate appearing but I do see imminent used. And I recall user's definition as, "If you hold a good faith belief, based on objective facts, that you are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm, then the use of deadly force may be used". [while not word for word, that is close enough].

Anyway, if anyone has some insight or good and valuable knowledge to share with this, please jump in and help with our collective (God, I do not like that word) education.
 

peter nap

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http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/imminent

Impending; menacingly close at hand; threatening.


Imminent peril, for example, is danger that is certain, immediate, and impending, such as the type an individual might be in as a result of a serious illness or accident. The chance of the individual dying would be highly probable in such situation, as opposed to remote or contingent. For a gift causa mortis (Latin for "in anticipation of death") to be effective, the donor must be in imminent peril and must die as a result of it.
 
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peter nap

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http://recoverymodel.com/id14.html[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Verdana]
Four questions for you to consider:
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1) What is an imminent danger?
2) What is an immediate danger?
3) What is the difference between immediate and imminent?
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[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Verdana]4) Why is this difference so critical and relevant to our discussions about mass murders and mental illness (Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson, etc?)[/FONT]
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If you ask 100 lawyers or psychiatrists or police officers to define and explain the difference between immediate and imminent danger you will get an interchangeable use of both words with an individualized interpretation. In other words for the huge majority of individuals and web articles, imminent and immediate danger are the same thing. This fatal flaw in thinking is the genesis of the problem we now face of psychotic mentally ill individuals as perpetrators of mass murder.
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[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Verdana]

Before I attempt to define immediate, we’ll review the synonyms used to define immediate: Occurring at once; instant, of or relating to the present time and place; current, Next in line or relation: acting or occurring without the interposition of another agency or object; direct (taking place or accomplished without delay, contiguous in space, time, or relationship.
[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Verdana]In summary: An immediate danger is a present danger that is next in order and not separated by space or time.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Verdana]For example: A person who has shot someone and is hiding in a school office is an immediate danger (the next event will be danger)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Verdana]

Before I attempt to define imminent, we’ll review the synonyms used to define imminent: near, coming, close, approaching, gathering, on the way, forthcoming, looming, menacing, brewing, impending, upcoming, on the horizon, in the pipeline, near at hand.

More
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BillB

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Immediate = now

Imminent = likely to occur RSN (Real Soon Now)
 

skidmark

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I agree that we need to look at how the two words are used to define any temporal difference or distinction.

Scouring case law (probably on self defense but some negligence suits might also be germane) to see how the appellate levels have distinguished the terms seems the way to go. I had to give up my NexisLexis/Westlaw subscription a few years ago. There are a few folks here who might have a subscription or know someone with access to one. Shepard http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepard's_Citations would be a good way to start collecting the case law.

I have contacted the Law Library at the University of Richmond School of Law to see if I can get access to do this. I'm also going to ask some folkswho work in law offices if they can help round up citations. Anybody that is willing to disarm to go on the campus is invited to come with me.

stay safe.

ETA -

Well, that was fast. Got a reply almost immediately:

Yes, the Law Library is open to the public. Our open hours (none of which are restricted in the summer) are posted at: http://law.richmond.edu/library/PDF/SummerHours.pdf

We have two terminals where you may access Westlaw and LexisNexis Academic, including Shepard’s. Reference librarians are available to assist during the weekday hours of 8:30am-5pm.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,

Suzanne
Associate Director,
Ref., Research, and Instr. Services
I'm thinking a field trip M, W, or F next week.
 
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skidmark

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http://scholar.google.com/scholar_c...163168&q=immediate+imminent&hl=en&as_sdt=4,47

one court case that discusses the similarities and differences between the 2 ....
Thank you for your effort. How many more cases do we need to look up? Do you happen to have their citations handy?

Are you going to show that this case was not appealed any higher? Are you going to show any subsequent cases that make mention of this case decision? Are you willing to wade through every case since 1609 and point out precisely wherre the discussion is? Or are you auditioning for the part of rubber crutch?

stay safe.
 

SouthernBoy

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Immediate = now

Imminent = likely to occur RSN (Real Soon Now)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_c...163168&q=immediate+imminent&hl=en&as_sdt=4,47

one court case that discusses the similarities and differences between the 2 ....
Thanks for the link. davidmcbeth. I also tend to infer "right now" from the word immediate whereas with imminent, while there may be a time buffer, it is not defined nor is it precise or specific. To me, immediate does not give sufficient time to react to a threat which has begun immediately. Is that when the pipe the BG is holding is on the way to your head? Is it when his finger begins its quick rearward motion on his handgun's trigger? Is it when his knife is out and on its way to your thorax? Imminent seems to infer a measure of time which works to the victim's advantage. He has a pipe and has clearly demonstrated he is about to use it (jeopardy, ability, intent). That hand is in his jacket on his gun (you can't see it) and he has indicated he is going to kill you if you don't hand over your wallet and keys. And on and on.

I like the word imminent in that it does seem to afford me that measure of time, however small, versus immediate which to me seems to suggest that there is no time left before I suffer the consequences of some BG's actions.
 
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davidmcbeth

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Thank you for your effort. How many more cases do we need to look up? Do you happen to have their citations handy?

Are you going to show that this case was not appealed any higher? Are you going to show any subsequent cases that make mention of this case decision? Are you willing to wade through every case since 1609 and point out precisely wherre the discussion is? Or are you auditioning for the part of rubber crutch?

stay safe.
You are free to click the "how cited" section to examine this particular case further ... but you are correct, people should not take a single case as gospel ...

Look at Heller I ... in Heller 2 they completely forgot about Heller 1 ... so even SCOTUS cases are ignored by the courts .. what the heller, huh?


Now, if someone does post a case and you think it is not an appropriate cite -- citing the case that supersedes the cited case would be nice.
 
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Citizen

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I'm not sure I understand why this needs to be discussed, and sliced and diced into tiny pieces.

In the context of self-defense, imminent has a clear meaning. What's to discuss? I take that back. If anybody wants to argue the point, its only because he's unwilling to accept the meaning. Or, he's overly worried some cop, prosecutor, or judge might deliberately misdefine the word, which is not something that can be prevented.

The whole point of the law using the word imminent is to forbid preemptive strikes based on a future threat. For example, shooting the nasty neighbor now because he announced he was going to get his gun and shoot you later tonight. The word imminent distinguishes which kind of threat is legal to shoot timewise--only the now threats, not the later ones.
 
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user

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Here's the quote:
If you have a reasonably held, good faith belief, based on objective fact, that you or another innocent person is faced with the imminent threat of serious bodily injury, then you are authorized to use such force as is reasonably necessary, up to and including deadly force, to stop the threat.
I don't think I recite that often enough.

I think discussion of words like these is important; nearly every word in that definition has some important legal significance. As to the question of imminent as opposed to immediate, I'd say there ain't a spit's worth of difference, as far as the law is concerned. It means the threat has to be right now, not "just now", and not "any minute now". The practical effect is that you can't shoot someone who was a threat but is now retreating, and you can't shoot someone who looks threatening, but hasn't done anything objectively to make the threat materialize.

For example, the people who think Trayvon Martin had the right to "stand his ground" are mistaken, because he attacked a guy who may have looked threatening, but who hadn't done anything to create an actual threat. He may have actually had "fear for his life", but without an objective fact that supports the idea that there was an imminent threat, his emotional reaction is irrelevant. Zimmerman, on the other hand, having his head bashed into the concrete repeatedly, had a reasonably held, good faith belief, based on objective fact, that he was faced with the imminent threat of serious bodily injury. That was pretty much, "right now", as far as Zimmerman was concerned. But if Martin had gotten off him and started to walk away, it would have been murder for Zimmerman to shoot and kill him at that point.
 

TFred

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This may detract, rather than add to the discussion... reading only the post from Peter Nap above, I get the idea that:

Imminent is standing under a piano which is hanging from a rope that you can see is fraying one strand at a time.

Immediate is standing under that same piano, after that last strand has snapped.

:D

Close?

TFred
 

Citizen

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This may detract, rather than add to the discussion... reading only the post from Peter Nap above, I get the idea that:

Imminent is standing under a piano which is hanging from a rope that you can see is fraying one strand at a time.

Immediate is standing under that same piano, after that last strand has snapped.

:D

Close?

TFred
"The dog would have stood from under." Mark Twain.
 

davidmcbeth

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This may detract, rather than add to the discussion... reading only the post from Peter Nap above, I get the idea that:

Imminent is standing under a piano which is hanging from a rope that you can see is fraying one strand at a time.

Immediate is standing under that same piano, after that last strand has snapped.

:D

Close?

TFred
Concise way of looking at it.
 

SouthernBoy

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This may detract, rather than add to the discussion... reading only the post from Peter Nap above, I get the idea that:

Imminent is standing under a piano which is hanging from a rope that you can see is fraying one strand at a time.

Immediate is standing under that same piano, after that last strand has snapped.

:D

Close?

TFred
Nice analogy, though imminent to me conveys something pretty close to immediate. But I do like your analogy.
 

SouthernBoy

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Here's the quote: I don't think I recite that often enough.

I think discussion of words like these is important; nearly every word in that definition has some important legal significance. As to the question of imminent as opposed to immediate, I'd say there ain't a spit's worth of difference, as far as the law is concerned. It means the threat has to be right now, not "just now", and not "any minute now". The practical effect is that you can't shoot someone who was a threat but is now retreating, and you can't shoot someone who looks threatening, but hasn't done anything objectively to make the threat materialize.

For example, the people who think Trayvon Martin had the right to "stand his ground" are mistaken, because he attacked a guy who may have looked threatening, but who hadn't done anything to create an actual threat. He may have actually had "fear for his life", but without an objective fact that supports the idea that there was an imminent threat, his emotional reaction is irrelevant. Zimmerman, on the other hand, having his head bashed into the concrete repeatedly, had a reasonably held, good faith belief, based on objective fact, that he was faced with the imminent threat of serious bodily injury. That was pretty much, "right now", as far as Zimmerman was concerned. But if Martin had gotten off him and started to walk away, it would have been murder for Zimmerman to shoot and kill him at that point.
Thanks for weighing in on this. I agree about the significance of words since on of my pet phrases is, "words have meaning" (my wife hates that because it tends to make me precise - the engineer in me, I suppose). I have noticed this topic coming up on some other threads, hence my reason for staring this one to air out their meaning in the context of the use of deadly force which affects all of us who chose to carry a firearm.
 

Maverick9

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Though interesting, this discussion is rather pointless, because these issues are not relevant, only to the way a LAW is written.

For example, if there had been a cop driving by and he saw TM slamming GZ's head into the ground and commencing a G&P what would he have done?

1. Stopped his squad and yelled at TM to stop?
2. Radioed it in, allowing several more slams to occur?
3. Drawn on TM and told him to desist (again allowing several more slams)
4. Or from his squad, after yelling once, shot TM from where he sat, not allowing any more slams?

What if the victim (bottom) had been a pretty girl?
What if the victim had been a child?
What if the victim had been a baby? (or a box of donuts...ok, ok, I kid).

If your answer varies, think about how the MMA referee does it. He slams his body into the top guy IMMEDIATELY stopping the slamming (here on concrete). Why is the cop allowing more slams while he (kind of) dicks around (in the examples above)?

BUT even if GZ had worn a video cam (lapel?) and had gotten it on video, because of profiling by the authorities, there'd have been equivocation. We don't want armed adults killing unarmed teenagers, in reality NO MATTER WHAT the teenager is doing (I'm talking society).

So, if you're going toward or into danger you had better be armed and have a lapel cam and recorder running and 911 on the horn, because YOUR IDEA of whether something was immediate or imminent means NOTHING by itself.

FWIW
 

Grapeshot

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Though interesting, this discussion is rather pointless, because these issues are not relevant, only to the way a LAW is written.

For example, if there had been a cop driving by and he saw TM slamming GZ's head into the ground and commencing a G&P what would he have done?

1. Stopped his squad and yelled at TM to stop?
2. Radioed it in, allowing several more slams to occur?
3. Drawn on TM and told him to desist (again allowing several more slams)
4. Or from his squad, after yelling once, shot TM from where he sat, not allowing any more slams?

What if the victim (bottom) had been a pretty girl?
What if the victim had been a child?
What if the victim had been a baby? (or a box of donuts...ok, ok, I kid).

If your answer varies, think about how the MMA referee does it. He slams his body into the top guy IMMEDIATELY stopping the slamming (here on concrete). Why is the cop allowing more slams while he (kind of) dicks around (in the examples above)?

BUT even if GZ had worn a video cam (lapel?) and had gotten it on video, because of profiling by the authorities, there'd have been equivocation. We don't want armed adults killing unarmed teenagers, in reality NO MATTER WHAT the teenager is doing (I'm talking society).

So, if you're going toward or into danger you had better be armed and have a lapel cam and recorder running and 911 on the horn, because YOUR IDEA of whether something was immediate or imminent means NOTHING by itself.

FWIW
Police officers have no duty to defend - that is a given.

Agree with your recommendations generally.

In the final analysis we are talking/discussing certain meanings/definitions - THAT is very relevant to us.
 
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