North Carolina Night Terrors: Defending Against Criminal Mischief

The following is a video transcript.

Well, it’s almost that time of year again, when little ones and sometimes not-so-little-ones dress up as their favorite monster, superhero, or literary character and go house-to-house to fill up their candy bags. Yes, I’m talking about Halloween. In many ways, it is a fun night. In other ways, it can be very frustrating, particularly if the treats you give aren’t good enough to keep the tricksters away.

Unfortunately, it is a time when many people engage in acts of vandalism. Sometimes the acts are minor such as rolling a tree with toilet paper and sometimes the acts are more serious, including the destruction or theft of property. It’s not uncommon for jack-o-lanterns to be smashed or for decorations to be damaged, or even stolen from you.

Under North Carolina law, if someone is damaging your property, you have the right to protect your property, and if they’ve taken your property, you have the right to retrieve it. But there is a limit to the amount of force that can be used. North Carolina law strictly prohibits the use of deadly force in the protection of property. Any non-deadly force that is used must be reasonable given the circumstances.

If this has been a problem for you in the past, or if you simply want to avoid it becoming a problem, I suggest that you put some signs in your yard that say that video surveillance is in use in the area where you anticipate damage. And that is whether or not you actually have such surveillance ability.

What about your right to carry firearms when trick-or-treating? There’s no North Carolina law that prohibits the carrying of a concealed firearm by a permit holder or even open carry by a non-permit holder. However, note that under North Carolina law, it is illegal for any person who is at least 16 years of age to go about in any public way while wearing a mask. Public ways include any lanes, walkways, alleys, streets, roads or highways.

Finally, please remember to be extra careful if you go out in public with your firearm on Halloween. Things aren’t always as they seem. Some costumes, and particularly some props, can be quite convincing.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and fun Halloween. Thank you.

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