There have been numerous self-defense incidents where innocent, law-abiding citizens had to face strenuous legal trials and hefty civil damage fines, just for defending themselves, their home, or family.
S can HTF any moment, and you should be prepared for that, legally, especially if you carry a weapon or are trained in self-defense.
Here we will compare the two most well-known legal defense for self-defense programs on the market - ACLDN, and USCCA. We will conduct an in-depth review of both these services to assist you in finding the right one for yourself.
What is the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network?
ACLDN (we’ll call it that for simplicity) is a member-funded legal defense for self-defense pooling program, where the membership funds are collected as a corpus, and used in the legal defense of a member when needed.
The company was founded in 2008 by its current president Marty Hayes, who is currently assisted by vice-president, Vincent Shuck and operations manager, Gila Hayes. The company also has an advisory board with some renowned names in the industry, who review individual cases for funding.
The network is currently comprised of over 17,000+ members and offers its service to the residents of all 50 states in the U.S.A. The legal defense fund (talked about earlier) has grown to over two million dollars today, which is used for defending cases of self-defense incidents.
It is also important to note here that ACLDN is not an insurance company nor a pre-paid legal service plan. The company does not have a partnership with attorneys, so you are free to choose your own. Rather, it only funds your legal defense efforts and requires you to find and handle your own attorney. This can be an advantage if you know a trustworthy attorney or can be a disadvantage if you don’t have any experience with legal defenses.
This organization receives its funding from dues allocations, corporate donations, personal donations, and bequests.
Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network Options
ACLDN is a very basic plan and doesn’t offer an extensive array of membership options. However, it does have features somewhat comparable to competitors. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.
What Does ACLDN Provide?
ACLDN has a basic and membership only plan which costs you $135 per year for the first year of membership and $95 per year afterward. You can add one additional member for $60, two for $120, and three for $180.
Additionally, the ACLDN also offers you options to opt for a three-year or ten-year membership due all at once. The three-year plan costs $295 for membership and renews at $255. Whereas a ten-year membership costs $790 upfront and $750 for renewal after the period is over. Both these options allow you to add one, two, or three extra members, at the same price as the base plan, per member per year.
Now, What Does This Cover?
Your ACLDN membership covers you for a maximum of $25,000 upfront fees for your civil or criminal defense attorney retainer and other related expenses. This value may be less depending upon your specific case and needs. More money will be provided further for legal expenses, depending upon a panel review of the case.
It also covers you with a $25,000 maximum upfront bail bond reimbursement. This is the cap limit and no further bail bond charges are borne by the company. It even covers the legal expenses of the member when found guilty, up to a maximum of half the value of the legal defense fund (which is $2 million, as of today). The membership, however, doesn’t cover any civil damage expenses levied on the member after the case.
You’ll also get a 235-page educational book, and eight DVDs with educational lectures. Additionally, you also get a monthly newsletter for regular updates.
The company is not very exact about the reimbursements, but it is still a renowned service provider.
What is the USCCA?
USCCA is a legal defense for a self-defense insurance program that covers its member firearm owners from all legal expenses after a self-defense incident. It is probably the largest program in its category, with more than 285,000 paying members and counting.
The company was co-founded in 2003 by president Tim Schmidt, together with Tonnie Schmidt. The company started as a concealed carry magazine and an online forum. Its mission is to grow to a community of one-million members by 2022. Which is in fact, huge!
USCCA offers different levels of protection by its segregated and meticulously crafted membership plans. Additionally, no other such service provider is as thorough in education and training material, along with offering regular events and a strong online community presence.
They gained some popularity in the spring of 2017 when the NRA disinvited them from their annual meeting. Which was followed by launching a program of their own, which was in fact similar to the USCCA. This agitated the already pestered firearm community by NRA’s exaggerated policies and behavior.
USCCA also helps with regaining your permits, record expungement, and any other suitable or required legal help after the case is closed.
As already mentioned, USCCA has three different membership tiers, with different levels of protection for the members. Each plan suits people with a specific set of needs and budgets. Let’s elaborate on them.
This is the most basic and cheapest membership tier from USCCA. It covers you with $500,000 in civil defense and damages and $100,000 in criminal defense, bail bond funding, and attorney retainer, combined. The membership provides upfront payment for all costs incurred in the case.
Additionally, the plan gives you full access to USCCA app features, along with 15 life-saving guides and eBooks. You also gain access to a previous one year record of back issues, to get a better understanding of such processes.
As a Gold member, you will be entitled to all the training and educational and community programs of USCCA, however, with limited access. More advanced lessons are available for higher-tier plans.
The plan is offered at a price of $22 per month, or $247 per year. The plan is great for people who are low on budget and require just basic protection for legal expenses, along with basic education and training lessons on self-defense and legal issues. However, with this plan, you will miss out on some of the most extreme and useful features, which could be a game-changer in a life or death situation.
The next and the most popular tier is the Platinum membership. It offers you a total legal defense cover of $1.15 million. Out of that amount, $1 million covers civil defense and damages and $150,000 covers criminal defense, attorney retainer, and bail bond funding.
The plan covers all the features provided in the Gold membership, along with some other extras, which we’ll mention further.
With the Platinum membership, you get access to USCCA’s archive for five years of back issues, plus 30 lifesaving digital guides and eBooks. You also gain access to an interactive "ask an attorney" monthly webinar, which helps resolve any questions by real attorneys.
The training program under this membership plan is the same as the Gold membership. However, you get an extra situational awareness training module in the member-only video library, along with advanced show entry into the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo.
The plan costs $30 per month, or $347 annually, making it a viable and budget-friendly option for most people. Benefits associated with group discounts, record expungement, and others are common among all plans from USCCA.
The plan provides one-million dollar coverage for civil defense and damages, which seems apt for the average Joe.
This is the top membership plan from USCCA. It includes everything the company has to offer. The Elite membership provides you with $2.25 million of coverage, out of which, $2 million is allocated for civil legal defense and damages, whereas the other $250,000 covers criminal legal defense, attorney retainer, and bail bond funding.
Additionally, you get lifetime access to the back issues online archive of USCCA, and 70+ lifesaving digital guides and eBooks to help you get educated about self-defense topics.
The plan also includes access to the monthly "ask an attorney" program and its complete lifetime archive, covering you completely on the education part.
It also provides access to the advanced "How to Use Deadly Force" video modules and 10+ hours of eLearning system modules ($344 value), which includes training on self/home defense and emergency first aid tactics.
Apart from all this, you get Elite VIP treatment at all USCCA events, along with a priority staus on their emergency hotline.
The plan costs $47 per month, or $497 annually. It is a high-cover comprehensive legal protection plan for you and your family. The high level of civil defense and damage coverage will shield you against the worst of cases, and the detailed education and training program will keep you prepared. It has been exclusively designed for people who are really serious about self-defense.
Here are the main differences between the two:
ACLDN provides very low coverage to its members. Although, further expenses can be covered by them based upon a panel review. But you still get a low level of protection for things like bail bonds and criminal defense. Additionally, they do not have a high amount of civil damage coverage. Not to mention other features like theft protection, record expungement, and permit retrieval. USCCA, on the other hand, provides comprehensive protection in each and every aspect.
Where USCCA has different tiers of membership, ACLDN has only one basic membership plan with only a limited number of features and upfront payment. The program provides only one add-on for adding extra members at a discounted rate. USCCA has three membership tiers, with an extensive list of options.
USSCA includes coverage for your spouse and family while they are inside the home, whereas ACLDN only covers you, and you have to purchase a separate membership for your spouse (which is discounted).
ACLDN is working on an attorney network but relies on you to choose your attorney, whereas USCCA offers you options to choose your attorney or get one of theirs.
Below are the main similarities:
Education and Training
Both companies provide education and training regarding self-defense situations and related legal technicalities. You get online newsletters and other digital training material along with in-depth videos. In fact, ACLDN focuses more on education than monetary benefits.
You get an upfront payment for all legal costs incurred by you during the trial. This is a great advantage since you don’t have to arrange any funds, spend your savings, or get a loan while on trial. Additionally, all legal expenses do not have to be reimbursed if you are found guilty.
Both ALCDN and USCCA cover their members in all states across the U.S. However, a small catch here is that USCCA membership is not available for purchase by residents of NY and WA (for obvious reasons).
Emergency Hotline and All Weapons
Both these services have an emergency hotline, where you can speak out to an emergency representative for legal help and further instructions. Additionally, all legal weapons of self-defense, including other weapons of opportunity are covered under their plans.
Top Pick Between Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network & USCCA
Well, it shouldn’t be that hard to pick one. In our opinion, USCCA is the better option, for almost everyone. The reason behind this, basically, is the amount of civil/criminal defense and damage cover you get with USCCA. Not to mention the high-value bail bond coverage, which is the best in the industry. Their programs are available in different membership tiers with monthly payment options, which is, in fact a great feature (avoids unnecessary upfront payment).
ACLDN, on the other hand, has very limited coverage and assistance. It may be good for a minor impound, but that rarely happens, especially where a lot of civil damage is caused. Plus, they require you to find an attorney by yourself (although they are working on building a network now). They also do not provide any other mid or post-case help such as reimbursements or firearm replacement. It is just a financial service for your court expenses.
USCCA is quite popular because it has plans suiting every budget, and it offers a good mix of coverage for legal, personal and societal expenses. USCCA has a BBB rating of A+, which itself speaks of its credibility, trustworthiness, and performance in the sector. However, if you are a NY or WA resident, you’ll have to go with ACLDN.
So undoubtedly, USCCA shines as our top pick.
ACLDN focuses more on education whereas USCCA has a more comprehensive approach towards covering its members for any legal expenses. ACLDN has a single-tier membership program, whereas USCCA offers different plans and monthly payments. Additionally, ACLDN offers only monetary reimbursement, whereas USCCA covers all your case expenses and post-case hassles.