Criminal defense attorney Brendan Bukalski from the Johnson Law Group’s Bloomington office served as our main speaker at the Pontiac GSL meeting in October.

He shared a tremendous presentation on the important role good attorneys play to keep you out of prison following a righteous use of force in self-defense. Yes, trials following what would ordinarily constitute lawful self-defense can and do happen. Especially in today’s hyper-political times.

Ultimately, he observed, if you’re convicted for murder, that means life in prison.

Have a defense plan in place in the aftermath of an incident(!) Don’t count on the local prosecutor using “common sense” in charging decisions on self-defense cases. Especially prosecutors with political ambitions.

Brendan Bukalski.

Bukalski talked about the James Love case his firm handled. Love, an older, out-of-shape farmer in Knox County (Galesburg), heard a car crash shortly after midnight in the summer of 2018. Knowing someone could be hurt, he went out to offer assistance.

[GSL covered it extensively when it happened.  Including very early, again and when the state’s attorney persisted in charging and the acquittal. ]

Mr. Love arrived and found two young men and a pickup truck on its passenger side.

Turns out the driver was Xavier Hartman, a 19-year-old bodybuilder who was three times the legal limit drunk and high on THC as well. On probation, Hartman didn’t want the police to show up.

To suppress a call to 911, Hartman beat James Love, striking Love hard enough to require stitches. Love retreated and Hartman pressed the savage attack.

The rage-filled body-builder continued to beat a bloody James Love to stop Love from chambering a round into his pistol. Then Hartman beat James Love in an effort to disarm him – and maybe to kill him.

After a couple of warning shots, Love fired low against Hartman and the shot ruptured Hartman’s femoral artery. The drunk and high body builder bled out and died.

The politically ambitious assistant Knox County prosecutor – a Republican, by the way – pursued charges even after a grand jury saw the case as self-defense.

The State Police conducted their own investigation. Their only criticism of James Love’s actions were that he didn’t shoot soon enough or often enough center of mass to stop the attack sooner.

At the same time though, Hartman’s family tried the case in the local media. They portrayed the young drunken, pot-smoking (when it was illegal) driver as a saint.   At the same time, Hartman’s family and friends smeared James Love as a blood-thirsty murderer.

Of course, the family left out the fact that Hartman’s own mother filed for an order of protection against him because of how violent he became while drinking.

In fact, at one point, the family of Mr. Hartman even blamed gun owners and the NRA for his death.  Yep.  That’s right.  As an NRA member, YOU are responsible for Xavier Hartman’s untimely demise.

Xavier Hartman and his mother.

Hartman’s family, looking for a payout, also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the farmer even before the murder trial began.

James Love went on trial for his life and his livelihood. Thankfully, the jury took less than two hours to return a not guilty verdict, absolving Love of fault. Obviously the wrongful death suit went nowhere after the acquittal either.

The criminal justice system will not be kind.
Bukalski warned folks that the criminal justice system will not be kind following a shooting. Expect to be arrested. Cops and investigators can lie (and they’re used to dealing with guilty people). Even small town investigators are often trained by elite federal agencies on interrogation techniques (including psychological games) that work exceptionally well.

Cops might even offer to let you go home if you submit to questioning right away without an attorney. They might even release you after you submit to interrogation, but expect them to show up not long after you arrive home with a warrant for your arrest.

Police officers who shoot suspects in self-defense get to wait a day or so before submitting to questioning with an attorney present. You should wait too. Even if that means spending a night in jail.

Having either a deep pocketbook or legal defense coverage opens all manner of doors in terms of resources for your defense. These including hiring an attorney before charges are even filed so the defense team can enter into discussions with the prosecutor before a charging decision has been made.

Brendan urged people to make sure self-defense insurance pays up front and not upon acquittal. And that it pays if there is a mixed verdict where a jury might acquit on the murder charge but convict on a minor offense like possession of a gun in a prohibited location.


Prudent people will secure legal protection NOW!  Especially in today’s world of politically-motivated prosecutions.

Elections have consequences. And frankly, some state’s attorneys do not recognize the right of self-defense as you or I do.

The state’s attorney has the power and resources of the state behind them. And unless you have a hundred thousand dollars to hire a first-rate criminal defense team, that’s not going to be a fair fight.

However, if you have self-defense insurance from a reputable carrier, you can protect yourself and your family from financial ruin in the aftermath of using force (firearm or otherwise) in self-defense.

Additionally, any of these companies will have referral lists for top-tier criminal defense attorneys nationwide. You might know a great divorce or probate lawyer, but that’s not who you want representing you in a criminal trial where your freedom and the assets you’ve accumulated are all on the line.

Here are three top companies in the legal defense coverage world.

Disclosure: Instead of receiving commissions or kickbacks, we’ve simply asked the companies to provide a discount that our members and our friends can enjoy. Companies are listed in no particular order.

Explore their coverages and find the one that works best for you.

You’ll be well covered with any of these three in the aftermath of a worst-case scenario.

And if you signed up for two or more of these companies, you wouldn’t be alone.

Save $25 off Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network for GSL members
Can you survive the legal aftermath of self defense? The Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network will allow you to access monies (currently over $1M) for a criminal defense attorney and related legal defense costs like expert witnesses after a self-defense incident. ACLDN also has a whole stable of self-defense expert witnesses to draw upon for your defense. Use your own attorney or they have a network of skilled criminal defense attorneys nationwide. $135 for first year. Discounts for spousal coverage and renewals.

Mention John Boch or Guns Save Life while enrolling (or use code GSL for online registration) and you’ll save $25 off your first year’s dues. And better yet, they’ll treat you like family.


Waive start-up fee + bonus coverage on annual membership for GSL members
The US Law Shield’s lawyers can represent you in the aftermath of a self-defense use of force incident at no cost to you with no cap on benefits. These include legal appeals. Plus they will represent you in a Red Flag hearing. Additional add-ons include protection for minors, identity protection, expert witnesses and nationwide coverage.

Mention that you’re a member of Guns Save Life while enrolling and they will waive the $19.95 start-up fee and they’ll give you two additional months of coverage free on the back end of a standard annual membership ($131ish). Call their Central Illinois territory manager Josh Horton at 217-304-8035 (or email at to utilize this offer. Or, if you wish, contact their membership hotline at (855) 478-6607 and mention your Guns Save Life membership to enroll with this discount.


GSL members save 15%
The US Concealed Carry Association offers comprehensive coverage for plan enrollees who become involved in a deadly force incident. USCCA covers both criminal and legal defense, bail bonds, lost wages reimbursement, expert witnesses and a whole lot more. They also now cover legal defense at Red Flag hearings as well.

They like Guns Save Life and have offered a 15% discount on their plans to Guns Save Life members. Contact them via their group membership line at (262) 746-2160 or Mention GSL for that 15% discount.

One thought on “Preparing for the legal aftermath of using force self-defense”
  1. […] Self-defense insurance. Anyone who carries a gun regularly (or even occasionally) should sign up for self-defense insurance. Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network and US Law Shield are two of the best, most affordable options out there. Mention GSL and save $25 at Armed Citizens (360-978-5200). GSL members skip the initiation fee and get two extra months with an annual sign up with US Law Shield. Email Josh Horton ( $110-$135 with GSL discounts.  For more info on these, check out this story at the GSL website:  Preparing for the legal aftermath of using self-defense. […]

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