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Old 24.09.2009, 23:05
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Self Defense in Switzerland

I've found it almost impossible to find information on Swiss laws regarding self defense. I am shocked and horrified, but there have been 6 (six) muggings at knife point and a break-in in my neighborhood. I just want to know what my rights to protect myself are here in Ticino. Any ideas? Thanks!
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Old 24.09.2009, 23:21
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

17 deliciously internet-typical pages of discussion on 'self-defence' and the moral hazards here. Maybe somewhere there there'll be a link to the appropriate law.

If someone pulls a knife on you, give them whatever they ask. Your brain is your greatest tool for self defence.
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Old 25.09.2009, 00:30
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

While I agree completely and have no inclination to fight (I'm insured up to my eyeballs for a reason) I need to know what rights I have to protect myself. In a mugging, etc, I would certainly hand over whatever it takes to walk away and call the police. However, if I were being attacked physically, kicked and beaten the way a fellow student of mine was the other night, what rights do I have to protect myself? If, for example, it was simply a game for a couple Italian thugs (as it was the other night) to come and beat me up, do I just stand there and thank them? Or do I have the right to protect myself and disable them (assuming I can) until the police arrive? There are about 400 of us wondering this now, perhaps the next step is to call and ask the attorneys....
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Old 25.09.2009, 02:14
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

If you are attacked do you have time to think about the law ? I know I never did and I never had a problem.
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Old 25.09.2009, 08:36
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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While I agree completely and have no inclination to fight (I'm insured up to my eyeballs for a reason) I need to know what rights I have to protect myself. In a mugging, etc, I would certainly hand over whatever it takes to walk away and call the police. However, if I were being attacked physically, kicked and beaten the way a fellow student of mine was the other night, what rights do I have to protect myself? If, for example, it was simply a game for a couple Italian thugs (as it was the other night) to come and beat me up, do I just stand there and thank them? Or do I have the right to protect myself and disable them (assuming I can) until the police arrive? There are about 400 of us wondering this now, perhaps the next step is to call and ask the attorneys....
I think reasonable force to effectively get them off you would be acceptable. If you then chased them down the road and knocked seven bells of Shannon out of one of them because you were angry and wanted revenge, the law might take a dim view of it.

I agree it's a sticky area in the law and the human brain isn't always thinking about what Mr Plod would approve of or not but I guess your own survival instincts would just want to get you to fight your way out then get away as quickly as possible and I assume the law is shaped around that.
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Old 25.09.2009, 08:58
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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If someone pulls a knife on you, give them whatever they ask. Your brain is your greatest tool for self defence.
exactly what I always thought until it happened to me earlier this year. Somehow my brain told me to have a go. The feckers were so shocked at me fighting back that they ran off before my flying fists could connect. I'm afraid if I had got one or 2 of them to the ground the police would have taken a dim view of what I would have done then
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Old 25.09.2009, 09:17
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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If someone pulls a knife on you, give them whatever they ask. Your brain is your greatest tool for self defence.
Nice in principle... not always in practise, considering it generally shuts down to a horribly basic and instinctual level (commonly known as "fight or flight") when confronted with the extreme stress that a mugging or attack brings. Over-riding that and staying calm is very, very tough.

Reasonable force (ie enough to diffuse the situation) is legally acceptable in just about every major European country (in fact this is an area where Britain shines)... but if you go over the top, expect to get into serious trouble. I asked some Swiss friends about this and they said if someone hits you, hit them back and it's generally fine.
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Old 25.09.2009, 09:42
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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I've found it almost impossible to find information on Swiss laws regarding self defense. I am shocked and horrified, but there have been 6 (six) muggings at knife point and a break-in in my neighborhood. I just want to know what my rights to protect myself are here in Ticino. Any ideas? Thanks!
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While I agree completely and have no inclination to fight (I'm insured up to my eyeballs for a reason) I need to know what rights I have to protect myself. In a mugging, etc, I would certainly hand over whatever it takes to walk away and call the police.
....

I realize everyone will have an opinion, but I would also like to learn what the law says.
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Old 25.09.2009, 09:52
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

If all they want is your wallet, toss it away from you on the ground. Don't just drop it, toss it. Separate yourself from what they want.
I can't imagine that if youi're good enough to beat the **** out of them, they're going to report you to the police, esp if they're Italian and not Swiss. If you chase them down and righteously hurt them, you've gone beyond self-defense so any self-defense laws don't apply. As for what the law says, are you looking to know IF you can defend yourself or HOW you can defend yourself (i.e. can you shoot someone)?
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Old 25.09.2009, 09:54
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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I've found it almost impossible to find information on Swiss laws regarding self defense. I am shocked and horrified, but there have been 6 (six) muggings at knife point and a break-in in my neighborhood. I just want to know what my rights to protect myself are here in Ticino. Any ideas? Thanks!
If you do live in a such an area, it might be a good thing to sign up for a basic self defense course. you learn at the same time about what your rights are too.

Of course you have the right to defend yourself, but as always with such things, it is easier said than done and it gets all ugly and complicated too. with the law and all I mean, depending on the circumstances too. so either move away from that place or why not go and have a chat with the police there about your rights and all.
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Old 25.09.2009, 09:56
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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Reasonable force (ie enough to diffuse the situation) is legally acceptable in just about every major European country (in fact this is an area where Britain shines)...
The problem with the reasonable force definition is that it's too damn woolly, and open to a vast amount of interpretation. What might seem perfectly reasonable when faced with a knife, and with the adrenalin coursing through your body, will probably not seem reasonable in the cold light of day, even more unreasonable in front of a court.
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Old 25.09.2009, 09:57
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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exactly what I always thought until it happened to me earlier this year. Somehow my brain told me to have a go. The feckers were so shocked at me fighting back that they ran off before my flying fists could connect. I'm afraid if I had got one or 2 of them to the ground the police would have taken a dim view of what I would have done then
You are my hero grumpy
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:00
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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The problem with the reasonable force definition is that it's too damn woolly, and open to a vast amount of interpretation. What might seem perfectly reasonable when faced with a knife, and with the adrenalin coursing through your body, will probably not seem reasonable in the cold light of day, even more unreasonable in front of a court.
Reasonable is doing what is strictly necessary in order to get chance to run, or make it so that you do not get seriously hurt. Unless someone falls down and hits their head on a kerb, the chances of doing any major damage, without malicious intent, are pretty slim
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:21
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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Reasonable is doing what is strictly necessary in order to get chance to run, or make it so that you do not get seriously hurt.
This is the important part - as soon as you have the chance to walk/run away you should take it - anything that happens afterwards can and will be used against you if the police is involved.

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Unless someone falls down and hits their head on a kerb, the chances of doing any major damage, without malicious intent, are pretty slim
This one is bogus though - I am surprised at the numerous times I read of a deadly outcome to some brawl. All it takes is somebody falling down after being hit, the impact of the head on the ground itself can cause serious damage - which obviously is already beyond self-defense when it happens and you will be liable.
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:26
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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I realize everyone will have an opinion, but I would also like to learn what the law says.
Source (in Italian)

Article 15: Justifiable self-defense
If someone is unlawfully attacked or directly threatened with an attack, the attacked person or anyone else is entitled to ward off the attack in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.

Article 16: Excusable self-defense
If the defender exceeds the limits of self-defense under Article 15, the court shall mitigate his punishment.
If the defender exceeds the limits of self-defense due to excusable excitement or distress at the attack, he shall not be culpable.
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:35
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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This one is bogus though - I am surprised at the numerous times I read of a deadly outcome to some brawl. All it takes is somebody falling down after being hit, the impact of the head on the ground itself can cause serious damage - which obviously is already beyond self-defense when it happens and you will be liable.
It's not common at all vs the amount of brawls that go on.
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:36
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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Reasonable is doing what is strictly necessary in order to get chance to run, or make it so that you do not get seriously hurt. Unless someone falls down and hits their head on a kerb, the chances of doing any major damage, without malicious intent, are pretty slim
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This one is bogus though - I am surprised at the numerous times I read of a deadly outcome to some brawl. All it takes is somebody falling down after being hit, the impact of the head on the ground itself can cause serious damage - which obviously is already beyond self-defense when it happens and you will be liable.
And all it takes is a relatively harmless punch, or even a push for that matter, for the assailant to loose balance and fall, especially if said assailant is drunk.
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:41
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

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Source (in Italian)

Article 15: Justifiable self-defense
If someone is unlawfully attacked or directly threatened with an attack, the attacked person or anyone else is entitled to ward off the attack in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.

Article 16: Excusable self-defense
If the defender exceeds the limits of self-defense under Article 15, the court shall mitigate his punishment.
If the defender exceeds the limits of self-defense due to excusable excitement or distress at the attack, he shall not be culpable.
The phrase "in a manner appropriate to the circumstances" is underused and underrated. Legislators should realise that the whole body of law could be summarised in a single sentence: "citizens are to behave in a manner appropriate to the circumstances." In fact, every country could implement this simplification.
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:45
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

Surely it implies whatever is necessary to stop or prevent an attack. Even if a person has not attacked, but is clearly about to attack, it is reasonable to use whatever force is necessary to prevent the attack.
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Old 25.09.2009, 10:55
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Re: Self Defense in Switzerland

This law is just such crap and proves exactly how difficult it is to measure
what is appropriate to the circumstances. It will always almost turn into one word against the other.
Besides folks hardly ever recall what exactly happened anyway ... so better stay out of trouble.


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Source (in Italian)

Article 15: Justifiable self-defense
If someone is unlawfully attacked or directly threatened with an attack, the attacked person or anyone else is entitled to ward off the attack in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.

Article 16: Excusable self-defense
If the defender exceeds the limits of self-defense under Article 15, the court shall mitigate his punishment.
If the defender exceeds the limits of self-defense due to excusable excitement or distress at the attack, he shall not be culpable.
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