The following is a video transcript.
What do you do when an unruly guest gets out of hand? What about someone who shows up on your property uninvited and crashes your party or invades your barbeque and refuses to leave? What if an invited guest invites his friends to your party? These people are either trespassers or become trespassers after they wear out their welcome and you’ve asked them to leave.
Oklahoma law protects your right to quiet enjoyment of your property by allowing you to decide who is and who is not allowed as a guest. Let’s discuss how a guest might become a trespasser and what you can legally do to remove them.
Legal Right to Eject
You have the legal right to eject an unwanted person from your property, even if they were previously an invited guest. Once you tell them they are no longer welcome and they refuse to leave, that person becomes a trespasser. You may then use reasonable force, but not deadly force, to remove the individual from your property. On most occasions, the use of reasonable force will take the form of physically escorting or removing the individual. However, the force used must be the least amount of force necessary to accomplish the goal of removal. The force must be reasonable under the circumstances.
use Reasonable Force
Even when the situation looks threatening, so long as the person is not committing or attempting to commit any offense outside of their simple trespass, you will be limited to using reasonable force to remove them. Remember it is reasonable force considering the circumstances. In Oklahoma, a reasonable use of force may be called a force continuum: the force that escalates in steps reasonably related to the threat, and the amount of force allowable is the least amount of force necessary to remove the trespasser.
Start with Verbal Requests
Reasonable force, limited by the situation, may start with verbal requests such as “please leave” followed by commands such as “you better leave before I call the police” and finally may escalate to slight physical force as you attempt to escort them off the property. Depending on the amount of escalating force, the reasonable use of force will vary, and the use of force may escalate to the point of defensive use of deadly force.
Don’t Misjudge the Situation
There are situations in which drawing or pointing your firearm may be reasonable use of force but evaluate your situation carefully. The guy with the gun will be charged with felony pointing of a firearm, if he is mistaken. Pointing a gun at a high school kid taking a short cut through your property or at the electric company’s meter reader could get you arrested. When the threat presented is one of grave bodily injury or death, Oklahoma allows a person to legally point a firearm at another in self-defense. If the danger is misjudged, and you unreasonably pull your firearm and point it at an innocent person, you have crossed the line into using deadly force and may be arrested, charged, and convicted for that act.
When you can use deadly force
So, you’re telling me I can’t shoot someone breaking into my occupied house? Absolutely not. At this point, the home invader is no longer a mere trespasser, you can use the Castle Doctrine and rely on Stand Your Ground laws to project deadly force in self-defense. However, if your actions are found to be unreasonable in the eyes of the police, the courts, prosecutors or a jury, you could be sanctioned. When you are threatened with rape, bodily injury, or death by an aggressive home invader – you are no longer protecting your property alone, you are now defending yourself or your family. Oklahoma law does not allow the use of deadly force to protect your property alone, but it does allow the use of deadly force to protect yourself and others.
A trespasser can quickly become a dangerous threat, and the confrontation with a trespasser may quickly and violently escalate. It is crucial you understand the laws of self-defense in Oklahoma.
If you have any questions about this issue contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.