Can You Shoot a Thief? | Georgia

Defending Property

Let’s discuss the law and the limits to defending your property in Georgia. Georgia law allows a person to protect their property with force from another’s unlawful interference or trespass onto that property. Furthermore, under certain circumstances, the law will also allow a person to stand his or her ground and use legally justified deadly force to protect property.

Georgia law provides substantial protection for property owners acting in defense of property other than their home (their habitation).


The Defense of Property Statute, just as with defense of self and defense of habitation, provides two tiers of action: threatening or using force against one who commits a trespass or a tortious criminal interference to your real property, and the use of deadly force against those who may attempt to commit a forcible felony on that property.

If someone has trespassed upon your property you may use force or the threats of force to stop them, but not deadly force. Of course, just like instances of self-defense, you must also meet the standard of reasonable belief, and the necessity of the use of force, but only so long as the use of force is accompanied with a reasonable belief that it is necessary to terminate the trespass.

When a person may legally use deadly force to defend his or her real property is also addressed in the statute. As in other situations where deadly force is justified under Georgia law, the use of deadly force, or that force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm, is justified when the actor reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony on his or her property.

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An individual who acts in accordance with the restriction of the use of deadly force and protection of real property would be immune from prosecution under Official Code of Georgia 16-3-24.2, just as in the case of one who uses deadly force to defend himself or herself, or a third person.

Additionally, there is no duty to retreat for one who lawfully uses deadly force in defense of real property. Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Statute would protect anyone who follows the law in using deadly force to protect property in that situation just as in situations where deadly force is used in defense of self or third parties.

If you have any questions concerning gun laws in Georgia or the use of force, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

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Comment section

1 comments on “Can You Shoot a Thief? | Georgia

  1. What wasn’t clear was if someone is attempting to steal property and you threaten the use of force which then progresses to the actual use of force. But in the act use of force they still do not comply, can you then use deadly force to save your property from being stolen? My life doesn’t feel threaten but the use of deadly force is the only way to protect my property from being taken as threatening the use of force and actual use of force failed.

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