Can I Be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Colorado?

Doug Richards here for U.S. LawShield of Colorado. I want to talk to you today about an issue that has come up quite a bit lately and has become a problem for one of our U.S. LawShield Members in particular. That is, whether or not you can shoot a dog or another animal that is about to attack you or do you have to wait for the animal to actually attack you? It’s kind of a gray area in Colorado law.

Under Colorado law, there’s no specific statute that allows you to discharge a firearm on any animal that’s either attacking you or attacking your dog. But the law in Colorado would allow you to use self-defense, including deadly force to protect yourself or a third party from what you reasonably believe to be the use of deadly force by another person, or in this situation, an animal.

If you were walking in your neighborhood and a loose dog came out and was threatening you, you would be able to use deadly force to protect yourself against that animal, as long as it was reasonable under the circumstances. Now, you would not be able to articulate a reasonable explanation to law enforcement if you were just using deadly force or discharging your firearm to protect your own dog. However, if you could articulate that you were in fear that the attacking animal was going to turn its attention and aggression towards you, then you would be able to assert the use of deadly force in self-defense.

Now, there are other affirmative defenses you could use. There is no real necessity defense or affirmative defense in Colorado. Instead, we have something called the choice of evils. With the choice of evils defense, you’d be able to argue if you were being charged with a crime, that you really had no other choice under the circumstances but to employ the use of deadly force, or to shoot this animal that was coming after you or threatening to attack you.

In terms of what you could be charged with, there’s a litany of charges. You could be charged with illegal discharge of a firearm or displaying of a firearm. Depending on the facts, if you were displaying it to somebody else, you could potentially be charged with menacing. All of these bring either misdemeanor or felony range charges and, more importantly, as a collateral consequence you could lose your CCW privileges as result of this. And we’ve had situations where clients are acquitted or the charges are dismissed, and then we’ve got to go back to the sheriff and try to get their license back, their CCW back. And that can be more difficult than you would imagine because the sheriff isn’t necessarily bound by the same burden of proof that the DA is bound by, when they are trying to prove this. Whether or not you’ve done this or not in a criminal form.

Getting your license back with the Sheriff is an administrative process. The sheriffs in my experience, really take the offense reports and whatever’s been written in those offense reports as gospel. Make sure you contact us at U.S. LawShield or me directly at my office, always happy to talk to U.S. LawShield Members about this or anything else.

Can I Be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Virginia

Can deadly force be used to protect yourself against an animal attack? The law of self-defense and the defense of others applies when you are faced with an animal attack. Virginia is a Stand Your Ground state. This means that if you did not start the fight or provoke the incident in any way, then you can stand your ground and defend yourself against your attacker without having to retreat. If you are without fault in provoking or bringing on the attack and you reasonably fear that you are in imminent danger of being killed or in imminent danger of great bodily harm and you use no more force than is reasonably necessary to protect yourself from the perceived harm or the attack under the circumstances as they appear to you, then your use of deadly force and self-defense is legally justified.

If you are involved in an event that requires you to defend yourself against an animal attack, which means you discharged your firearm, the odds are very high that it will be investigated by the authorities, and if it is investigated and they determine that it’s not self-defense, that you did not have a right to protect yourself, then you very well may be charged with something like cruelty to animals or the reckless handling of a firearm.

Can I Be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Pennsylvania?

I have a dog. I love dogs. But something that comes up frequently is, “What do I do if a dog is attacking me, or my dog or loved one?”

Under Pennsylvania law, it is lawful for you to shoot a dog if it’s attacking you or another person or your domestic animal. If that’s the case then there is no crime, and you can put down the attacking dog.

The animal cruelty statute recently changed, however. I remember back when I started my career it was very narrow and very tough to prove, but it’s been massively expanded. So, it’s worth talking about to make sure that we know what the law is. This way we can stay on the right side of the law and know how prosecutors can potentially try to twist the situation.

I’ve handled an enormous number of murder cases. I will tell you that those are emotionally draining for everyone involved. But a death-of-a-dog case is even more so. I’ve seen people become quite distraught.

The aggravated cruelty to animals statute in Pennsylvania makes it a crime to torture an animal. That’s pretty straightforward. The statute also makes it a crime to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engage in a course of conduct that is going to result in the death or serious bodily injury of an animal.

So, you can see how that might get twisted, or try to get twisted under certain circumstances, by some prosecutor … because maybe the owner of the dog is politically connected or is particularly vocal. We see that sometimes.

You need to be aware of those types of things. Most importantly, the bottom line is that if a dog is attacking you, another person, or your domestic animal, then you can use lethal, deadly force.

If you have any questions, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

Can I be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Georgia?

Do I have to let a dog bite me before using deadly force to protect myself? When can I shoot an attacking animal, and what crimes could I be charged with? Now, the most basic question, perhaps the most important that we have to answer with this topic, is can I legally use deadly force against an attacking animal?

Yes, you absolutely can. When it comes to the laws of the use of force and even deadly force to defend yourself, someone else, or property against an attacking animal in Georgia, the statutes are a mixture of different laws and they’re not contained in just one section of statutes. Recall that there is no general defense against animal statute in Georgia. We’re dealing with several different avenues where potentially you could be justified.

To begin with, the standard laws of justification would prevail. In other words, if you believe that you must act to prevent death or great bodily injury, then you would be justified potentially in the amount of force that you used against a potential animal attack.

Georgia has no dedicated self-defense or defense of others statute that deals with all animals. But statutes do exist that justify acts against animals in general, and more specifically, statutes that grant freedom from liability for acts committed against animals involved in specific conduct.

Now, you may be legally justified in using force or deadly force, as in firing a weapon, against an attacking animal if you reasonably believe that such act is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of injury or damage to any person, or animal, or property.

While the general theory of justification under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-3-21 would apply to a defense of animal attack, the cruelty to animal statute or that subsection would discharge an individual of any criminal responsibility for the death of an animal after he or she shot that animal so long as that person felt it necessary to protect himself or herself from an imminent threat of injury.

Now, the code section also says this: a person who humanely injures or kills an animal under the circumstances indicated in this subsection shall incur no civil liability or criminal responsibility for such injury or death. That is the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-12-4(h)(3).

The law on permitted action appears to become broader when it pertains just specifically to dogs. While the justification provisions of the cruelty to animals statute that we just went through absolve an individual from criminal responsibility for the death of an animal when necessary against an imminent threat, the cruelty to dog statute arguably lowers the threshold for freedom from liability for killing a dog, only requiring a showing that an individual has defended his or her person or property from injury or damage. We’re talking about the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 4-8-5. This is the cruelty to dogs statute. Again, it arguably lowers the level of danger in order to respond, only requiring a showing that an individual has defended his or her property or person from injury or damage caused by a dog.

This is the language of that statute. No person shall perform a cruel act on any dog, nor shall any person harm, maim, or kill any dog or attempt to do so, except that a person may defend his or her person or property or the person or property of another from injury or damage being caused by a dog or kill any dog causing injury or damage to any livestock, poultry, or pet animal.

Can we protect ourselves from an animal attack? Yes. Under the general theory of justification, you can do so. Under the cruelty to animals statute, you can do so. And, under the cruelty to dogs statute, you can do so. General theories of justification when death or great bodily injury is perceived under the cruelty to animals statute when there is an imminent threat to person or property and under the cruelty to dogs statute when person or property may be potentially damaged, then you can protect yourself under any of those theories by the use of force or even deadly force. If you do so, your actions must be as humane as is possible under those circumstances, but you can protect yourself.

Now, if you are charged, you can be charged with cruelty to animals. You can be charged with cruelty to dogs. But under those specific statutes, there are subsections that grant you civil and criminal immunity if you act according to the law.

Can I be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Oklahoma?

What do you have to do when you’re confronted by an attacking dog and whether you have to let the dog bite you before you can use deadly force?

The answer simply is of course not; you don’t have to let a dog bite you. When can you shoot if you’re confronted by an attacking dog? You can shoot when the danger of being bitten by the dog is imminent. You have to have an imminent danger and the danger has to be one of great bodily injury or death to yourself or to another.

Now, what crimes can you be charged with if you were to shoot a dog? You can be charged with the crime of discharging a firearm in the city limits, discharging a firearm in public, or shooting in public. You can be charged with reckless handling of a firearm. All of these are misdemeanors. You could also be charged with cruelty to animals, which is a felony. Speaking of which, how will you defend yourself if you’re charged with cruelty to animals? The law of necessity in the State of Oklahoma will come to your aid.

The law of necessity can be found in the case of State versus Grizzle in which Mr. Grizzle found himself at a party, shooting firearms, and having fun. When he was attacked by a dog, he shot the dog, killed the dog, and then he was charged with animal cruelty. Using the law of necessity, he was able to successfully defend the case on the grounds that even though he was breaking the law by handling firearms and that the firearm shooting of the animal was also a crime—cruelty to animals—he was justified in using deadly force because the harm of breaking the law in those instances was averted by him, the greater harm which would be death or grievous bodily injury to himself, by killing the dog. That was his argument. Yes, I did create a harm, but a greater harm was my death or my severe personal injury was averted by killing the dog.

Can I be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Missouri?

I often get questions about the use of force against dogs. If a dog approaches you, teeth bared, snarling, angry, can you use force against that dog? Under Missouri law, you may be justified in doing so.

If you are in reasonable apprehension of imminent harm, then you may be justified in using deadly force to kill the dog. Also, if a dog has been chasing, killing, harming sheep or other domestic animals, or has been recently engaged in those activities, then you may be justified in killing the dog. However, if the dog is in an enclosure, where it has a lawful right to be, owned by the dog’s owner, then you can’t harm the dog.

What kind of crime could you be charged with if you shoot a dog? The most likely felony charge that would be brought is cruelty to animals. There’s also a misdemeanor charge, animal abuse, which could be brought in a situation where you shot a dog. Now, the question, again, in these types of situations is, “Were you justified?” You could have been completely justified, and you could still be charged, and find yourself in court defending yourself. That’s why you need an experienced attorney to handle your case.

There’s also something called the Doctrine of Necessity. The Doctrine of Necessity underlies the laws of Missouri, that justify the use of force against a dog. If it’s necessary for you to shoot that dog, to prevent it from harming you, someone else, your livestock, or other domestic animals, then you may be justified in doing so.

If you have any questions, please call U.S. LawShield today and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

Can I Be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Florida?

We are often asked about attacks by dogs. Can you shoot a dog that is approaching you aggressively? Do you have to wait for it to bite before defending yourself? What level of force can you use to defend yourself against a dog or other animal? If you are out jogging or walking your dog and another dog approaches in an aggressive manner, teeth bared, snarling, do you have a right to stand your ground and use deadly force to protect yourself and your dog? Most people are surprised to learn that nowhere in Florida law do our statutes give authority to use force of any kind against an animal if being attacked. Instead, Floridians must rely on case law and the animal cruelty statute. Our law prohibits the killing of an animal unnecessarily.

The relevant part of the animal cruelty law states that a person who unnecessarily mutilates or kills any animal, commits animal cruelty, a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is punishable by up to a year in jail. Further, a person who intentionally commits an act which results in the cruel death or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, commits aggravated animal cruelty, a felony of the third degree punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. Necessity is an affirmative defense in Florida. For actions to be found necessary, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The actor reasonably believed a danger or an emergency existed which was not intentionally caused by him or herself.
  2. The danger or emergency threatened significant harm to himself, herself, or a third person.
  3. The threat and harm must have been real, imminent, and impending.
  4. The actor had no reasonable means to avoid the danger or emergency, except by committing the crime.
  5. The crime charged must have been committed out of necessity to avoid the danger or emergency.
  6. The harm that the actor avoided must outweigh the harm caused by committing the crime.

Unfortunately, even though Florida law specifically tells us we can stand our ground against attacks from other humans, it is silent on animal attacks, leaving the fate of those who defend themselves against animal attack in the hands of a jury; who must decide if the defender’s action were necessary under the circumstances. Further, the cases show us the force used can only be as much as is necessary to stop the attack. If you shot a pit bull attacking you and one shot stops the attack, as the animal turns to flee, you cannot shoot again or your actions may be considered unnecessary and therefore in violation of the animal cruelty statute. If you have further questions about using force to defend yourself against a dog or other attacking animal, please give U.S. LawShield a call and ask to be connected to your Independent Program Attorney.

Can I be Arrested for Shooting an Attacking Dog in Texas?

Have you ever been chased down by an aggressive dog? Do you have to let that dog bite you before you defend yourself with force or deadly force?

One of the oddities about Texas law is that there’s no specific legal justification that allows you to defend yourself from an attacking dog. Texas law details a slew of other areas where you’re legally justified in using deadly force, such as preventing murder, sexual assault, or carjacking, but contains nothing when it comes to defending yourself or your loved ones from a marauding dog attack.

In fact, Texas specifically recognizes your right to protect your livestock, fowl, or domestic animal against such an attack, but says nothing about humans. The Texas Health and Safety Code says, “A dog or a coyote that is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked livestock, domestic animals, or fowls, may be killed by any person witnessing the attack, or the attacked animal’s owner, or a person acting on behalf of the owner, if the owner or person has knowledge of the attack.”

Does that sound like your domestic animals and livestock have more rights when it comes to dog attacks? It’s because they do. The Texas legislature has declined to remedy this problem in the past, though we can always hope that 2019 might bring some positive change. Fortunately though, Texas provides some protection for your actions through the defense of necessity. This is a defense, not a bar to prosecution, and it has a lot more bark than it does bite.

Boiled down, the Law of Necessity says that your actions are legally justified if you reasonably believe your conduct was immediately necessary to prevent imminent harm, so long as the harm you prevented clearly outweighed the harm you cause, and the law doesn’t otherwise exclude this type of defense. But the defense of necessity is just that—a defense. It must be asserted in court. It may not stop the investigation, your arrest, or prosecution.

What crimes could you be charged with for shooting a dog? There’s a variety of Texas crimes that you could be charged with, including animal cruelty, deadly conduct, and disorderly conduct. On top of that, depending on where the incident occurred, you could be charged with discharge of a firearm in certain municipalities.

Here’s the good news: if you do happen to be charged with one of these offenses, your lawyer will bound into action with your necessity defense. Though this defense may be ultimately up to a jury of your peers, it’s a strong legal argument in your favor. So, if a dog is about to attack you or another person, you can rely on necessity to shoot that dog.

You don’t have to wait for the dog’s teeth to sink in before necessity kicks in. The law only requires that the threat be imminent, but you must exercise extreme caution if you plan to rely on the defense of necessity. Police and prosecutors rarely evaluate a case with this little-known defense in mind. That means we see justified, law-abiding folks getting arrested, even when they’re in the right, and put into the position of asserting the defense to a jury.

If you have any questions about defending yourself against an attacking dog, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

Member Story: Armed Neighbor Crosses the Line

This is a re-enactment and dramatization of an actual member story. This video does not and is not intended to depict or replicate the actual persons, places, or circumstances involved in the incident.

The Situation

In this story, our member lives in a rural area. He and his neighbor have had multiple disagreements over the years.

One day, our member receives a call from his wife while he is at work. She was in a panic, and frantically told her husband about an encounter she’d just had with their neighbor. She told him that their neighbor had entered their property and harassed her. She also told her husband that the neighbor was armed. Although being armed outside isn’t necessarily uncommon in their area, this was no friendly chat. The neighbor threatened her both verbally and with a gun.

Fearing for the safety of his wife and family, our member grabbed his firearm, immediately left work, and rushed home, where he confronted the neighbor about the situation. Tempers flared, and the police were called. Our member assumed nothing more would come of it. He assumed wrong. An investigation began, and it targeted our member as the criminal—not the victim.

The Outcome

Thankfully, our member called the U.S. LawShield emergency hotline, and an Independent Program Attorney intervened. After multiple interactions between law enforcement and the Independent Program Attorney, the investigation was eventually dropped, and no charges were filed against the member.

This story is a great reminder that any confrontation can unexpectedly escalate into a full-fledged police investigation, even if you’ve done nothing legally wrong. All it takes is one person to accuse another of wrongdoing, and a victim is suddenly targeted as an alleged assailant.

Our member did the right thing by contacting the emergency hotline at the first sign of a problem, which ultimately ensured his rights were protected.

Protecting Her Young: Armed Mother Defends Family from Home Invasion

Armed mother defends family from home invasion

The Home Invasion

A woman from Goochland County, VA, defended herself and her two daughters from a home invasion when a man attempted to force his way in. The Goochland County Sheriff’s Office identified the man as Troy George Skinner, a New Zealand native.

Skinner had been in contact with the homeowner’s 14-year-old daughter online, having first met four months ago on Discord, a platform and chat site for gamers. Skinner attempted to continue communications with the girl even after she stopped contacting him. The nature of their relationship is unknown.

After many failed attempts to contact her, Skinner traveled from New Zealand to Goochland County to meet the girl in person.

“He was not invited here, he was not expected here, he had been told in the past that this daughter no longer wished to communicate with him,” said Goochland Sheriff James Agnew at a news conference.

Skinner tried to enter the woman’s home through the basement, however, the woman heard him and repeatedly yelled that she was calling the police and had a gun.

After failing to gain entry through the basement, the now home invader made his way to the deck section. Skinner proceeded to force his way into the home by breaking through the deck doors. The woman continued to warn him to stop.

When her warnings weren’t enough to deter Skinner, the woman shot him twice using a .22 caliber gun.

Deputies found Skinner lying in a neighbor’s yard armed with a knife, pepper spray, and duct tape purchased from a Walmart.

“This was not random, this was not spontaneous, this was something very planned,” Agnew added at the news conference.

The Aftermath

Skinner received treatment by Goochland County Fire and Rescue and was then transported via Med-Flight to VSCU Medical Center. He was arrested and booked after his release from the hospital.

Skinner will “face an enhanced penalty for committing this crime while armed with a deadly weapon,” said Sheriff Agnew.

The homeowner was able to defend herself and her daughters from a home invasion. However, protection is more than just a firearm. Get the legal protection you need in case of a self-defense incident today. Join U.S. LawShield, the legal defense for self-defense.

Original article can be found here.