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Lawyers: Could you kill someone who breaks into your house?

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
If there is a criminal that broke into your home, are you legally allowed to kill them? Would you be charged with murder? What happens if the burglar is unarmed, but you assumed they had a weapon?
post #2 of 94
I'm not a lawyer, but even I know this varies vastly by state.

So I suppose the answer is "you could, but you better know the laws in your state before you do."
post #3 of 94
I'm not a big city lawyer or in BIGLAW but you hear cases of robbers suing victims every now and then. Who knows if that's just urband legend, though.
post #4 of 94
Here is my impression, but as crim goes my knowledge doesn't extend far past search and seizure. So grain of salt. To put it simply, if you intentionally kill someone, that is murder. The next question becomes, do you have any statutory or common law defenses. "He broke into my house" is not a common law defense. It may be a statutory defense in your state, I have no idea what cockamamy laws you guys see fit to pass. Aside from that, you'd need to make another defense fit the bill, which will depend on the circumstances of the shooting aside from his having broken into your house.
post #5 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JD_May View Post
Here is my impression, but as crim goes my knowledge doesn't extend far past search and seizure. So grain of salt.

To put it simply, if you intentionally kill someone, that is murder. The next question becomes, do you have any statutory or common law defenses. "He broke into my house" is not a common law defense. It may be a statutory defense in your state, I have no idea what cockamamy laws you guys see fit to pass. Aside from that, you'd need to make another defense fit the bill, which will depend on the circumstances of the shooting aside from his having broken into your house.

Would your case be stronger if you used a knife?
post #6 of 94
just leave the kitchen knife on his hand and call it a day
post #7 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by acidicboy View Post
just leave the kitchen knife on his hand and call it a day

awesome.
post #8 of 94
The best way to know is just to try it and find out.
post #9 of 94
You wanna try it at my house? Im real close to palo alto.
post #10 of 94
If you have a crappy roomate you want offed, this would be a perfect way out. Kill the robber, then use his hands to touch a knife and kill your roomate. Tell your lawyer you were in fear for your life after he killed your roomate. You're off scot-free with a 2-4-1!!!!!
post #11 of 94
Thread Starter 
Would lying even be necessary if I find someone from NY Biglaw?
post #12 of 94
It varies wildly state by state. In the South and Mountain West, many states have the castle doctrine.

In the milder states, once the guy is leaving the house or non-threatening, you can't shoot. If you feel your life is in danger (and be sure to repeatedly state how scared you were in talks with the cops) you can shoot/stab but once the person is no longer a threat, you must stop.

Rare exceptions have been made for the elderly and disabled who successfully argued that they were afraid if they stopped the person would revive and the victim would lack the strength to defend themselves again.

I'm pretty conservative on this issue, but it's kind of common sense - if the bad guy is no longer a threat, stop attacking, no matter how pissed off you are.
post #13 of 94
it depends. if you kill someone who was in the process of burgularizing your house and robbing you, you may still find yourself on trial for murder. however, depending on the factual circumstances, you may raise a self-defense defense. you'll have to prove that you reasonably believed that you were in danger of imminent bodily harm, and that deadly force was reasonably necessary to prevent that harm, though.

this is not legal advice.
post #14 of 94
Thread Starter 
Someone breaking into your home who is very likely armed with a weapon of some sort isn't enough to constitute severe alarm?
post #15 of 94
let's put it this way: if you find someone in your home stealing your ps3, and you shoot him dead only to find that he was totally unarmed, then you'll be in deep shit.
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