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Okay, I understand that it varies by state (I'm in GA) but in general I have a few questions. I know when to use deadly force as a civilian (ie: couldn't have escaped and my life was in danger, etc.) but:

How about in defense of property? Like the Korean grocery store owners during the LA riots? Can you shoot someone for taking property? I'm pretty sure shooting a looter running away from your store with one of your TV's wouldn't be justified, right?

Anyone know? The law in GA states that you can use deadly force to prevent forcible felonies. What does this mean? Can anyone explain this to me? Thanks
 

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The only state that I know of that you can use force to protect property is Texas...At least untill recently they had the after dark rule that said if you caught someone on your property, stealing your property , you could use force to stop them.

I think they may have changed that law though.
 

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Whether legal or not, I think shooting someone to protect property may not be the wisest choice. I'm sure we'll hear from people saying "I worked too hard for my things and nobody is going to take them!" but even a justifiable shoot is going to cost you serious money, aggrevation and mental anguish. I operate under the idea that you shoot only in the defense of life and only when there's no alternative. I'd like to think that being solvent & present is more important to my family than stopping some punk from stealing my 8-track player.
 

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I agree with Blinder...My 8Track player is not worth shooting someone over.
Now...my old Bronco...Man...that truck is part of the family....

But seriously...property can be replaced...That doesn't mean I won't try to stop someone from stealing from me...But I wouldn't shoot someone unless someones life was in danger.



[This message has been edited by Bronco (edited 05-11-2001).]
 

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I think the safest way to know when to shoot someone is, when your internal senses say your life is in danger. You WILL know it.
 

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Pointman:

I most states (Texas excluded) it is illegal to use deadly force to protect property. Doing so would likely lead to at least a manslaughter conviction (quite possibly 2nd degree murder) and also to civil suit that you will lose.

I think about it this way. I have $500 deductible on my car. That will buy 1-2 hours of a good attorney's time. If someone is stealing my car, I'm not going to threaten them with my gun. I will call the police, I will be a good witness.

However, if I am in the car and they are trying to car-jack it at gunpoint, that's a different matter. In that case I am in danger of death or grave bodily injury, so I will use whatever force necessary to save my life, providing I can't safely escape.

In many states (particularly around here in MA), the aftermath of using force is so awful that the only time it is worth putting yourself through that is if the alternative is that you wouldn't survive.

M1911
 

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According the the Florida Secretary of State brochure that comes with the concealed weapon permit:

"Florida law justifies the use of deadly force when you are:

- trying to protect yourself or another person from death or serious bodily harm;

- trying to prevent a forcible felony, such as rape, robbery, burglary or kidnapping."

Outside the home or place of business, there is a duty to retreat from the threat of death or serious bodily harm, if feasible. (paraphrased from the brochure)

According to "The Law of Self Defense: A guide for the Armed Citizen", in Florida:

"(In one's home or place of business) deadly force may be used if there exists reasonable and factual grounds to believe that unless so used, a felony would be committed.

- Falco v. State, FL 1981

The felony does not have to be lethal in threat, and there is no duty to retreat (castle doctrine; paraphrased)".
 

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I agree with everyone that said using deadly force to protect property is a terrible idea, legal or otherwise. Potentially life threatening incidents are where I draw the line; other than that, I personally can't justify shooting another human being.
 

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From the applicable Florida statutes:

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.--A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against such other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

776.031 Use of force in defense of others.--A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

776.08 Forcible felony.--"Forcible felony" means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

782.02 Justifiable use of deadly force. --The use of deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.

Concur with already stated opinions that defense of property usually doesn't warrant deadly force, except in your home or business (castle doctrine). Of course, there are always exceptions. But insurance is cheaper, and we should hold all possessions in this world lightly anyway. No matter how much you paid for them or how far you traveled to get them, you ain't takin' 'em with you on your last trip out of this life


Regards,
TBob

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"To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them"
- George Mason, American Statesman (1725-92)

[This message has been edited by TBob (edited 05-11-2001).]
 

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I agree that taking someone down over a DVD player is a bit extreme. I know, it says different in my tagline, but I wasn't in my right mind when I wrote it. I was in my left mind.


Seriously, I haven't researched the laws on deadly force for my neck of the woods, but if someone want my DVD player, VCR, TV, etc., it's theirs.

Besides, isn't that what homeowner's insurance is for?
 

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TBob:

Thanks for that useful information, and especially for the references. It adds to the general knowledge base, which is always a good thing.

I do not get on the internet for help with moral decisions, but am always interested in learning new facts. You have provided some, which I (and probably the origial poster who asked for the information) appreciate.

KLN
 

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I think some of you may not fully appreciate Texas law. Texas laws were not set up so much to protect property as they were to preclude crimes against the home at NIGHT. We don't get to shoot people in the daytime for property, only at night. This goes back to English laws that made crimes at night a felony. Operating under the cover of darkness was seen as very rude and it put victims at a substantial tactical disadvantage. Some guy in on your property at night and is taking the wheels off your car, he may just be one of many people on your property, his job being to be the lookout for the others who have used the cover of darkness to invade your home where they plan to do...whatever they can. The law simply allows the homeowner/tenant to erradicate the threats actually seen on property because seeing threats at night is more a fluke of luck than a common thing.

Protecting property is not a great idea, but the law isn't about protecting property, it is about protecting the security of those against whom a crime or crimes is(are) being committed under the cover of darkness. The law simply has some leeway.

Besides, if taking someone's life over a toaster isn't worth it, then they should not have been taking the toaster at night! In Texas, the criminal makes the decision to risk his/her own life, not the landowner. This is a significant distinction. It is not as if I, as a landowner, simply dole out death sentences in a willy nilly fashion.

We should all have signs in our yards that proclaim, "Lethal Force Authorized" , reprinted in six different languages. Maybe some of the people playing the odds that they won't get shot over a toaster will get the message.

PS I have insurance and plan on letting the toaster go, probably.
 

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KLN,

Thanks for your kind words. Glad I could help. I actually carry the applicable parts of the statutes in my Palm handheld, just in case.

Regards,
TBob

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"To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them"
- George Mason, American Statesman (1725-92)
 

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Someone stealing my car, truck, anything outside my home (carjacking and robbery excepted) NO WAY
In my home, you better have 6 good friends, my family, you better have seven good friends, six won't be able to carry the extra lead I'll do my best to fill you with.
Jack
 

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OK, I really do not care what State you are in or what the laws read you should never use deadly force to protect property. Your life, yes, the life of another you bet, but I promise you that if you use deadly force against someone in order to protect a televison, or a car it will not be worth it. Remember after the criminal case there WILL be a civil suit. Police are not allowed to shoot fleeing "known" felons unless there is a clear, immeadiate danger to someones life.
 

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JMG,

Totally agree. Aside from the police investigation, aside from the family of the dead man, woman, or child suing you, aside from people calling you a murderer wherever you go for the rest of your life, I imagine killing someone over a microwave, TV, or stereo equipment can't be very good for a restful night's sleep, either.

Personally, I don't think it would be (or should be) very easy to snuff the life out of someone, even in a life-threatening encounter, let alone taking pot shots on an unarmed kid heading out the door with your cordless phone.

The worst part is, how do you determine if a burglar is there to do more than take your belongings? How easy is it to see a gun or a knife in the dark? I guess that's the most likely reason why some of you are saying "shoot first and ask questions later," and you have a valid point. All I can say is I pray none of us ever has to make that call.

[This message has been edited by traevin (edited 05-13-2001).]
 

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If lethal force can't be used to protect property, you can aim at a guys knees, or feet right? Thats not lethal......


A girl I used to shoot with always would hit those human silluette targets in the crotch.
Can she do that to stop someone from a panty raid? How bout in Texas?



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-Electric Armadillo
 

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Well, as long as we are clear on what we all would or would not personally do, that is what is most important. Second guessing at the last moment is a delay that can get you killed.

You know, all the situations are different. I think what happens and people often perceive is that being burgled at night means sniping the burglar to stop him/her. Sure, there is no way in hell I am going to snipe someone outside of my house. However, if I run into a person taking the wheels off my car in the driveway and they don't immediately flee me, then I have to assume they intend harm because they ain't retreating.

Electric_Armadillo, any time you shoot a gun at someone, you have used lethal force. You may not have a lethal impact by shooting them in the knees, like you are going to be able to hit their knees, but you have used lethal force. Plus, if you did hit an artery, then you likely had a lethal impact. The question is, will the person die before help arrives? If the person receives no help at all and the wound turns septic and the dork dies, then you had lethal impact.

As far as hitting the in crotch, cute idea, makes women feel good to shoot targets that way, but shooting a man's reproductive organs is a lot more difficult than shooting the head on the shoulders and a lot less effective.
 

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Originally posted by Double Naught Spy:

Electric_Armadillo, any time you shoot a gun at someone, you have used lethal force. You may not have a lethal impact by shooting them in the knees, like you are going to be able to hit their knees, but you have used lethal force. Plus, if you did hit an artery, then you likely had a lethal impact. The question is, will the person die before help arrives? If the person receives no help at all and the wound turns septic and the dork dies, then you had lethal impact.

As far as hitting the in crotch, cute idea, makes women feel good to shoot targets that way, but shooting a man's reproductive organs is a lot more difficult than shooting the head on the shoulders and a lot less effective.
It was a joke, I wasn't serious considering those as valid tactics.

You do bring up a good point in just using a gun is considered lethal force, regardless of where aimed.

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-Electric Armadillo
 

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Outside the home it's gotta be life threatening or nothing.

Inside my home... on the first floor I call the cops. But the stairway leading to my precious childrens' and wife's bedrooms is a free fire zone.
 
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