U.S LawShield Independent Program Attorneys are constantly asked about where the law draws the line when it comes to using a firearm or other deadly weapon in the protection of their property.
Beware! The use of deadly force to protect property alone is unlawful in many states. The law on this subject varies dramatically depending upon the jurisdiction. If you are a member of U.S. LawShield, call and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney for any questions about the defense of property in your state.
These various state laws concerning the justified protection of property can run the gamut from supportive to hindrance. For example, Texas statutes allow a person to use deadly force if it is immediately necessary and done in a reasonable fashion to protect property from somewhat minor misdemeanor crimes of theft at night and criminal mischief at night, all the way to the felonies of arson, burglary, and robbery. In stark contrast, Maryland requires a person to retreat from anywhere except their home before using deadly force, and the use of deadly force is not justified solely in the protection of property.
Unfortunately, the experience of our members and Independent Program Attorneys has taught us that just because you can use force, or in some states deadly force to protect property, it can often be a hazardous and risky choice. In addition to knowing the laws, you must ask yourself, “Do I want to throw myself into the legal system, where my split-second decisions will be second-guessed by a prosecutor, judge, or eventually a jury?”
Obviously, no one wants to ever find themselves in a circumstance where they have to make the choice to use force or deadly force to defend what their hard work has provided to them.
As a practical matter, you should take time to contemplate whether or not the value of the property stolen or destroyed is worth the time, stress, and effort that could possibly await you in the event the police and prosecutors don’t believe your conduct was reasonable and lawful. Even if you are justified, your actions will be heavily scrutinized.
In addition to the legal system weighing your reaction of defending your property versus the injury or death of the perpetrator, the court of public opinion is always there to render its verdict, many times without knowing even a small fragment of the facts.
It is all too evident in these days of social media, that if you find yourself using deadly force to defend property, your privacy, your family, and your livelihood will suffer the consequences. The internet is very quick to label someone as a killer or vigilante, and possibly sway the legal authorities into prosecuting you or at least trying to make you the victim of the new social media culture.
Our Independent Program Attorneys are often asked the follow-up question, “Are you telling me I can’t defend myself if the attacker threatens my family, too?” Because the preservation of life is paramount in American law, all states recognize the right to use deadly force in response to the imminent unlawful use of deadly force. This should also be the guiding focus of your decision to use deadly force.
The safety and security of yourself and your loved ones should always be at the forefront. There are many circumstances where the defense of yourself and your family become intertwined with the protection of your property, such as during a home invasion or carjacking. In these situations, the law will look far more favorably on your use of deadly force in reasonable self-defense or defense of others.
In times of trouble, our Independent Program Attorneys are here to help you. If you have any questions about the lawful defense of property, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.