Will the Riots and Looting Ever Reach Your Neighborhood?

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

The answer to the title question is - probably not. However, if the worst case ever happens or someone enters your home, will you be able to defend your family or home - legally? Do you know the rules for defense of home?

A common statement you hear in the street is, “If someone comes in my house, they will be met with both barrels of my shotgun? That is a bravado position to take, but full of problems that would leave you in serious legal jeopardy. First, here is a general statement to consider, "You can't just shoot someone who comes in your house". That may be true, but not enough information. There are laws/rules regarding how someone enters your home, and how you can respond.

Here I will use NC as an example, but to be clear, no matter what state you live in, you can always defend yourself from a threat while in your home. You have no duty to retreat from a threat (Castle Doctrine) and you can respond to a threat/force with proportional force of your own. However, in 2011 new laws in NC defined the circumstances about the legal amount of force in defense of a dwelling, especially deadly force. Other states have similar laws.

First, lawmakers wanted to avoid citizens/people being seriously injured or killed over a mistake or a simple trespass. So, if some unknown person enters your home by mistake and is otherwise not subjecting you or your family with a deadly force threat, deadly force is not allowed. Sure, if a non-threatening person enters your home, you may use any non-deadly force to remove them, but not deadly force.

Let's say that an unknown man enters your home through an unlocked door and refuses to leave. As above, absent any deadly force threats, this may be a simple trespass situation and deadly force is not allowed. Call the Sheriff or use any non-deadly force to remove the trespasser, but you can't just shoot him! Bottom line, trespassing or mistakes are not death sentences in NC.

So, when is deadly force authorized when some unknown person/s enter your home? Simply stated, when someone enters (or tries to enter) your home unlawfully and by force, deadly force to stop the threat is allowed. Those two acts, unlawfully and by force are the "triggers" that authorize deadly force - both must be present.

There are prohibitions and exceptions to consider like for law enforcement or bail bondsmen and if an intruder quits, stops entry, and/or flees. For one example, someone entering your home who would otherwise have a legal right to be there (co-owner, renter, spouse, etc.) would not be unlawful, therefore not triggering deadly force. However, when a person (who has no right to be there) has to break something (door-window) to enter, that would be unlawful and by force. Therefore, that circumstance is a trigger for the use of deadly force. The key here is that you must know (or have reason to believe) that the entry was both unlawful and by force. Guesses are not going to get it! Is there any evidence that a forced entry occurred?

The legislature and courts believe that when someone enters your home unlawfully and by force, a homeowner can assume they are there to do harm and to commit some forcible felony on any occupants - that makes deadly force a reasonable response.

This is not a full treatise on this area of law. Take the time to get more information from your local defense attorney, prosecutor, or law enforcement.

Got what you need at Sindri Tactical? If so, venture over to for more self-defense law information.

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