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Thread: How far can you go to defend your home against an intruder?

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    This in on the wdbj 7 web site today.

    "You and your family are inside your home when an intruder breaks in. What do you do? How does the law currently allow you to protect yourself?

    "If someone broke into my home and I defended myself and my family and that person ended up dead, the local Commonwealth's Attorney is gonna do an investigation and they're gonna decide whether or not the level of force I used was reasonable, or whether or not I was justified in using any force at all," says Delegate Bill Janis.

    Right now, residents can face criminal charges for injuring or killing intruders.
    Janis says homeowners or renters who defend themselves in their homes should beexempt from criminal charges or being sued ifan intruder enters, moves towards them,and the resident believes he or another person in the home is in danger of bodily harm.

    Alice Mountjoy with the Center for Public Safety fears the bill puts people at risk who have Alzheimer's disease or mental illness. People who may wander into someone else's home without any criminal intent.

    Janis admits it's the kind of bill people either love or hate. So far, a majority in the House of Delegates like it."


    Was this discussed by the House Committee, Courts sub Criminal, yesterday?

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    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!

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    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!
    Case law, gentleman & ladies, case law.
    Yata hey
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Grapeshot wrote:
    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!
    Case law, gentleman & ladies, case law.
    Yata hey
    Case law is all well and good but FightingGlock19 is correct....at this time Virginia has no castle doctrine on the books. It needs to and hopefully this legislative session it will happen.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    bayboy42 wrote:
    Grapeshot wrote:
    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!
    Case law, gentleman & ladies, case law.
    Yata hey
    Case law is all well and good but FightingGlock19 is correct....at this time Virginia has no castle doctrine on the books. It needs to and hopefully this legislative session it will happen.
    Delegate Janis' Castle Doctrine bill, HB 710, will be heard in the
    full House Courts of Justice committee on Monday afternoon, Feb 4th. per Va-Alert.

    Yata hey



    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Grapeshot wrote:
    bayboy42 wrote:
    Grapeshot wrote:
    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!
    Case law, gentleman & ladies, case law.
    Yata hey
    Case law is all well and good but FightingGlock19 is correct....at this time Virginia has no castle doctrine on the books. It needs to and hopefully this legislative session it will happen.
    Delegate Janis' Castle Doctrine bill, HB 710, will be heard in the
    full House Courts of Justice committee on Monday afternoon, Feb 4th. per Va-Alert.

    Yata hey


    If this is a true Castle Doctrine bill, such as Florida's and some other states, then it is indeed, a very good thing for Virginians. The two most important parts of this doctrine is; protection against prosecution by some zealous anti-gun/anti self-defense county prosecutor in cases where the use of deadly force has been deemed to be justifiable, and two.. protection against any subsequent civil suits for same.

    There are other protections such as those which free up the victim from having to decide in extreme situations whether or not his actions are going to be viewed as legal (example: shooting a carjacker or a home invader).

    The only other aspect of the Castle Doctrine in states which have this has their law is the freedom from having a "duty to retreat". We already have this in Virginia.

    Some years ago, I wrote the, then, Governor Allen's office concerning these very same things. I was most concerned about prosecution and civil suits. These concepts should be no-brainers to any state representative. You have to wonder why on earth they would want to continue a program of prosecution and civil liability against the victim of a violent crime who just happened to turn the tables on his assailant. It makes me hope and prey that they and their families experience what other victims have been through in order to get their heads out of the clouds and see reality.


    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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    bayboy42 wrote:
    Grapeshot wrote:
    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!
    Case law, gentleman & ladies, case law.
    Yata hey
    Case law is all well and good but FightingGlock19 is correct....at this time Virginia has no castle doctrine on the books. It needs to and hopefully this legislative session it will happen.
    are there any groups being proactive concerning this? I know if I were a VA resident, I'd be calling *ALL* of my state representatives & such.

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    Just like the police must use reasonable force against a person approaching them for an attack... I think the people should have to abide by those same rules.

    I cannot see it being legal to shoot an unarmed man for breaking into your house.

    I know many other states allow it but I know how often drunks enter the wrong house with no intent to commit a crime. They are often times unarmed and intoxicated. I see no justifiable reason to kill them.

    I also know that burglars want your stuff and they do not want any contact with you. If you called out many would run away. I cannot see killing someone over a property crime.

    Giving people permission to shoot anyone who was not invitedinto their home is a bad idea. I feel you need to have a justifiable reason before you can just shoot to kill.

    But this is my opinion....Be sure not to vote for me when I run for office.

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    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    bayboy42 wrote:
    Grapeshot wrote:
    FightingGlock19 wrote:
    VA doesn't have a Castle Doctrine? ouch!
    Case law, gentleman & ladies, case law.
    Yata hey
    Case law is all well and good but FightingGlock19 is correct....at this time Virginia has no castle doctrine on the books. It needs to and hopefully this legislative session it will happen.
    are there any groups being proactive concerning this? I know if I were a VA resident, I'd be calling *ALL* of my state representatives & such.
    Right now this is HB 710. VCDL strongly supports this bill. If you are not a member of VCDL, I suggest that you join.

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    It's difficult to say that this isn't necissary, but I think it is necissary. A situation can start out calm.... it's dark, you hear noises, you investigate, you surprise an unarmed individual -- they may be confused because of whatever -- and think they are in the right place. What happens when they think YOU are an intruder in THEIR house, while they are confused in YOURS? Hypothetically what do you do if they grab one of your knifes or any other object and threaten you to get out of their house? What happens when they advance twoard you? What do you do then? What happens if they suddenly get afraid of being reported to the police and decide they don't want you talking to anyone? Sure these are hypotheticals, and no I haven't read about this type of thing happening off the top of my head, but that doesn't mean it can't.

    The guy who broke into that girls house the day she bought a handgun, what if hehad beendrunk and just wanted to talk and try and "convince" her that he was going to change, was she still justified in killing him? Even after the restraining order? I am pretty sure that guy was unarmed.

    I don't think we should make blanket statements saying how itwould notbe justified, I think there are situations where it's going to be very justified. People are unpredictable.

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    bohdi wrote:
    It's difficult to say that this isn't necissary, but I think it is necissary. A situation can start out calm.... it's dark, you hear noises, you investigate, you surprise an unarmed individual -- they may be confused because of whatever -- and think they are in the right place. What happens when they think YOU are an intruder in THEIR house, while they are confused in YOURS? Hypothetically what do you do if they grab one of your knifes or any other object and threaten you to get out of their house? What happens when they advance twoard you? What do you do then? What happens if they suddenly get afraid of being reported to the police and decide they don't want you talking to anyone? Sure these are hypotheticals, and no I haven't read about this type of thing happening off the top of my head, but that doesn't mean it can't.

    The guy who broke into that girls house the day she bought a handgun, what if hehad beendrunk and just wanted to talk and try and "convince" her that he was going to change, was she still justified in killing him? Even after the restraining order? I am pretty sure that guy was unarmed.

    I don't think we should make blanket statements saying how itwould notbe justified, I think there are situations where it's going to be very justified. People are unpredictable.
    These hypothetical situations have escalated the situation from someone just entering the wrong house and as described have become a life threating situation. A drunk person who enters the wrong house and is just confused and may be peaceful but IF that person then picks up one of the kitchen knives and advances on the homeowner, that is a totally different matter. I personally would hate to find out that I had shot someone who accidentally entered my home and meant no harm. I hope I never have to take someone's life for any reason, but in self defense it would be justifiable.

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    We can play "what if" all day.

    And in the current "what if" the guy clearly obtains a weapon and advances toward you.

    We have gone beyond a mistake to a threat. This would be obviously justified.

    The difference being... A guy making entryto the home vs a guy with a weapon approaching you specifically to cause harm.

    Just saying I feel you should not shoot till you have a credible threat.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Giving people permission to shoot anyone who was not invitedinto their home is a bad idea. I feel you need to have a justifiable reason before you can just shoot to kill.
    Do you necessarily believe that reasonable people would not still use good judgment. I see this as a shield against reckless prosecution. One could still be guilty of murder in these circumstances under some state laws. The burden to prove that force was not reasonable is shifted to the prosecutor. The greatest benefit of these castle doctrine laws is the civil lawsuit protection in cases that do not result in a criminal conviction.-Jay

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    JasonRogers wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Giving people permission to shoot anyone who was not invitedinto their home is a bad idea. I feel you need to have a justifiable reason before you can just shoot to kill.
    Do you necessarily believe that reasonable people would not still use good judgment. I see this as a shield against reckless prosecution. One could still be guilty of murder in these circumstances under some state laws. The burden to prove that force was not reasonable is shifted to the prosecutor. The greatest benefit of these castle doctrine laws is the civil lawsuit protection in cases that do not result in a criminal conviction.-Jay
    LEO229 Good point. I agree that there should be a justifiable reason to shoot. Can you imagine how one would feel if they shot and killed the neighbor's teeneager who had too much to drink and opened the wrong door?!!!!

    Jason Rodgers I would hope that everyone would use good judgement before shooting. The castle doctrine IS a great protection against reckless prosecution and against civil lawsuits, however IT IS NOT AN OPEN LISCENSE TO SHOOT TO KILL for just any reason. As you stated, some circumstances might still result in a murder conviction. Taking a life, for any reason, is something I hope none of us ever has to do!!!

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Just saying I feel you should not shoot till you have a credible threat.
    I agree 100%, which is why I said what I did. I'm not advocating you automatically shoot just because you wake and find someone in your basement. We don't have a duty to retreat in VA but you do have a duty as a human being to have a responsibility to make sure your decision to fire is based on "I had no other choice after excercising other available options". I was just trying to illustrate how quickly the situation could change from just being a drunk guy in your house to being a drunk guy who's now a threat in your house; or any other type of guy who is in your house who shouldn't be.

    Anyone who is in my house after I close shop for the night (or any other time for that matter) that I don't expect to be there - because I didn't let them in, is a potential threat. Potential threats need further investigation and need to be treated with caution until the threat level is properly assessed. Because of that, it's prudent to be prepared to handle the situation based on what little information you know at the time, so having the weapon at the ready is called for until the appropriate threat level has been determined.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not handing out jelly filled doughnuts and flowers to everyone who comes calling without an invite - and I don't think you are either. I don't agree with what Mr. Janis says, I think that's a bit irresponsible, and I believe not all gun owners agree. I think that it's a bit irresponsible because it's a generic blanket statement that doesn't nail down the sitatuion better.

    "If someone broke into my home and I defended myself and my family and that person ended up dead, the local Commonwealth's Attorney is gonna do an investigation and they're gonna decide whether or not the level of force I used was reasonable, or whether or not I was justified in using any force at all," says Delegate Bill Janis."


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    JasonRogers wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Giving people permission to shoot anyone who was not invitedinto their home is a bad idea. I feel you need to have a justifiable reason before you can just shoot to kill.
    Do you necessarily believe that reasonable people would not still use good judgment. I see this as a shield against reckless prosecution. One could still be guilty of murder in these circumstances under some state laws. The burden to prove that force was not reasonable is shifted to the prosecutor. The greatest benefit of these castle doctrine laws is the civil lawsuit protection in cases that do not result in a criminal conviction.-Jay
    I have been on this forum for almost a year.... There are a few here that are NOT reasonable and are nothing more thanimmature kids with a gun.

    I do not believe someone committing a crime should be allowed to sue anyone. I would hate to seea laws that say you are justified to kill an unarmed man entering your property either.

    There are people on this forum that know the laws and actually discuss how they can exploit that law and even search for loopholes.

    So in part.... I would be inclined to agree with you.

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    acrimsontide wrote:
    LEO229 Good point. I agree that there should be a justifiable reason to shoot. Can you imagine how one would feel if they shot and killed the neighbor's teeneager who had too much to drink and opened the wrong door?!!!!

    Jason Rodgers I would hope that everyone would use good judgement before shooting. The castle doctrine IS a great protection against reckless prosecution and against civil lawsuits, however IT IS NOT AN OPEN LISCENSE TO SHOOT TO KILL for just any reason. As you stated, some circumstances might still result in a murder conviction. Taking a life, for any reason, is something I hope none of us ever has to do!!!
    Exactly...

    Years ago when I had no experience as a cop I was told of a shooting that had happened. A guy broke into a house at night and the owner walked down the steps and unloaded on him. The burglar was shotone time through the elbow and stomach.

    At that timeI said great job!! Kill that Mother F-er for breaking in....

    Then years later I learned from first hand experience that kids sneak back into their homes, drunks andmentally impaired people sometimesenter the wrong houses too.

    Knowing this can happen I have changed my view. It is my opinion that you MUST see a threat first. Had that home owner called out to the kid in the window I am confident the kid would have stopped and ran away.

    The kid did run after being shot and went home to bleed all over the bathroom floor till mom found him and called 911.



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    bohdi wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Just saying I feel you should not shoot till you have a credible threat.
    I agree 100%, which is why I said what I did. I'm not advocating you automatically shoot just because you wake and find someone in your basement. We don't have a duty to retreat in VA but you do have a duty as a human being to have a responsibility to make sure your decision to fire is based on "I had no other choice after excercising other available options". I was just trying to illustrate how quickly the situation could change from just being a drunk guy in your house to being a drunk guy who's now a threat in your house; or any other type of guy who is in your house who shouldn't be.

    Anyone who is in my house after I close shop for the night (or any other time for that matter) that I don't expect to be there - because I didn't let them in, is a potential threat. Potential threats need further investigation and need to be treated with caution until the threat level is properly assessed. Because of that, it's prudent to be prepared to handle the situation based on what little information you know at the time, so having the weapon at the ready is called for until the appropriate threat level has been determined.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not handing out jelly filled doughnuts and flowers to everyone who comes calling without an invite - and I don't think you are either. I don't agree with what Mr. Janis says, I think that's a bit irresponsible, and I believe not all gun owners agree. I think that it's a bit irresponsible because it's a generic blanket statement that doesn't nail down the sitatuion better.

    "If someone broke into my home and I defended myself and my family and that person ended up dead, the local Commonwealth's Attorney is gonna do an investigation and they're gonna decide whether or not the level of force I used was reasonable, or whether or not I was justified in using any force at all," says Delegate Bill Janis."
    I see you and I see things the same way.

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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    The only other aspect of the Castle Doctrine in states which have this has their law is the freedom from having a "duty to retreat". We already have this in Virginia.
    I'm not sure if you're trying to say we do, or do not, have a duty to retreat in Virginia. So I'll make sure this is clear for any who are not aware of the standard in Virginia. There is no duty to retreat in Virginia. In fact, case law clearly establishes that you have no duty to retreat.


    If the accused is in no fault whatever, but in discharge of a lawful act, he need not retreat, but may repel force by force, if need be, to the extent of slaying his adversary. This is justifiable homicide in self defense. (Emphasis retained from the original. Dodson v. Commonwealth, 1933)
    The whole "you have to crawl out of your window if you can" thing is a myth, or at least it is in this state. Besides, you would have no way of knowing that there isn't someone out there as well.

    The following is a very crude summary of how things work in virginia, based on existing case law:

    You don't have any duty to retreat, but you can't seek out the situation, except as necessary to protect your family or any third party (e.g. friends).

    If you're in your bedroom with your wife, no one else lives in the home, and someone is taking stuff out of your living room, you're life isn't in imminent danger at that point. If you left your room, confronted the burgler, and killed him, a prosecutor can make a reasonable case that you contributed to the situation, and had no reason to contribute to the fatality except to protect your things.

    In the same situation with family or friends sleeping in other rooms, however, it would be very difficult for a prosecutor to make the same case. In the latter situation, since you would have to leave your room to protect others, it's not easy to prove that your actions to protect others were excessive.

    How likely it is that a prosecutor actually would pursue charges really depends a lot on where you live in the state. Where I live, I'm pretty sure a prosecutor would be commiting career suicide if he pressed charges in a situation like this. The problem is that that leeway is still there.

    I don't particularly like the way the law is in virginia, even if it is better than a lot of other states. But, until a Castle Doctrine bill gets passed, it's a reality I have to live with and plan around.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    I have been on this forum for almost a year.... There are a few here that are NOT reasonable and are nothing more thanimmature kids with a gun.


    There are people on this forum that know the laws and actually discuss how they can exploit that law and even search for loopholes.
    That's the scary part!!! The fact that some people in the world are not reasonable could well be the reason that more states do not have Castle Doctrine and still have "duty to retreat" laws on the books. It would only take a few unreasonable shootings to cause changes to the Castle Doctrine laws already on the books. I have a hard time understanding why some people in this world seem to relish the thought of shooting someone. Maybe they have not actually seen the carnage that occurs when a projectile fired from a firearm hits flesh, human or even animal.

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    Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. That's, ..........OK

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Exactly...

    Years ago when I had no experience as a cop I was told of a shooting that had happened. A guy broke into a house at night and the owner walked down the steps and unloaded on him. The burglar was shotone time through the elbow and stomach.

    At that timeI said great job!! Kill that Mother F-er for breaking in....

    Then years later I learned from first hand experience that kids sneak back into their homes, drunks andmentally impaired people sometimesenter the wrong houses too.

    Knowing this can happen I have changed my view. It is my opinion that you MUST see a threat first. Had that home owner called out to the kid in the window I am confident the kid would have stopped and ran away.

    The kid did run after being shot and went home to bleed all over the bathroom floor till mom found him and called 911.
    It's dark in my house at night. If there's a noise that wakes me and sends me reaching for my firearm, I've got the best night vision I'm going to have, giving me a leg up on an intruder. If I "call out" to the intruder, turn on the lights, or frantically dial 911, I immediately reveal my position putting myself in a worse situation.

    Second, despite having better night vision than the intruder, I still may not be able to tell whether he has a weapon or not. I have to assume that someone who came into my house in the middle of the night has intentions beyond just a property crime. He saw the two cars in the driveway. He knew someone was home. Criminals are opportunistic. If the intended crime were purely property, wouldn't said criminal wait for a better opportunity, such as when no one is home?

    I'm not advocating we just go shooting people for the sport of it, but I'm not going to wait around for a bad guy to threaten me or otherwise compromise my situation any more than it already is. Intruding into my home in the middle of the night is reason enough for you to stop breathing.

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    bohdi wrote:
    Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. That's, ..........OK
    You and I will always have at least one thing in common.... We love guns and that is what really matters....

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    vtme_grad98 wrote:
    If you're in your bedroom with your wife, no one else lives in the home, and someone is taking stuff out of your living room, you're life isn't in imminent danger at that point. If you left your room, confronted the burgler, and killed him, a prosecutor can make a reasonable case that you contributed to the situation, and had no reason to contribute to the fatality except to protect your things.
    But it'd be ok to confront the burglar and not kill him? I grabbed my gun hoping not to use it, and ordered the intruder to leave. He made a motion toward me and I ended the threat. I didn't go to shoot him. I went to order him to leave. He refused to comply and instead came toward me in a threatening manner.

    I'm not going to sit around in my bedroom and hope the burglar doesn't decide he wants my wife's jewelry, when he enters the bedroom, putting my family in an even more compromised situation. If you're in my house when you know I'm home (cars are parked in front), I have to assume that you don't care whether I'm home because you intend to do me harm.

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    bohdi wrote:
    Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. That's, ..........OK
    I'm not sure that I understand what you meant.

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