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#1
Old 10-25-2012, 07:06 PM
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Can you shoot a robber in the back?

Is it legal in the US to shoot a fleeing burglar? Or in general, is it legal to shoot a criminal fleeing the scene of crime?
#2
Old 10-25-2012, 07:08 PM
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CAN you do it? No, of course not. Totally impossible.
#3
Old 10-25-2012, 07:28 PM
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Most places at least, shooting someone fleeing will get you in trouble. Doubly if you chase them. But like if you're hiding under the bed and shoot them? Maybe?
#4
Old 10-25-2012, 07:32 PM
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Not sure about other parts of the country, but Texas will let you shoot someone who is running away to protect property under certain circumstances. Circumstance being it is night, the person is fleeing with the property, and you don't believe you can recover it by other means.

If you are faster than me and it is dark, it might be smart to let me see that you dropped whatever you stole.

Reference Section 9.42 of the penal code

Quote:
Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:
(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and
(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and
(3) he reasonably believes that:
(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or
(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Last edited by txtumbleweed; 10-25-2012 at 07:34 PM.
#5
Old 10-25-2012, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwertol View Post
Is it legal in the US to shoot a fleeing burglar? Or in general, is it legal to shoot a criminal fleeing the scene of crime?
Very generally speaking, in the vast majority of U.S. jurisdictions, use of lethal force is reserved almost exclusively for self-defense, and sometimes defense of others.

In the case of a fleeing burglar/criminal, it's hard to claim "imminent danger to life/limb," and thus use of lethal force is generally no longer justifiable in that case.

There are exceptions, as txtumbleweed has shown, and slight variations in different jurisdiction's wording of use of force laws allow slightly different legal interpretations from one place to another.

But overall, generally, shooting a fleeing burglar/criminal in the back will get you in a lot of legal trouble.

Last edited by ExTank; 10-25-2012 at 07:49 PM.
#6
Old 10-25-2012, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwertol View Post
Is it legal in the US to shoot a fleeing burglar? Or in general, is it legal to shoot a criminal fleeing the scene of crime?
You are going to see some variaton in circumstance as well, shot in the back in your bedroom vs your front yard are going to be very different legally. Someone 10-15 feet away still represents a threat.

for example I break into your house, I see you and quickly turn around and start to stoll away "neener neener you can't shoot me in the back" while drawing my gun from the concealed holster in the front waistband of my pants (Which you cant see because I am walking away from you).
#7
Old 10-25-2012, 08:00 PM
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In general, there is no general rule on this.
#8
Old 10-25-2012, 08:05 PM
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Almost any question beginning "Is it legal in the U.S..." is going to have the answer, "it depends what state you are in."

I think a lot of people forget just how much sovereignty states have here in the good ol' U S of A
#9
Old 10-25-2012, 08:08 PM
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If he's in your house, he's your rightful prey where I live.
#10
Old 10-25-2012, 08:22 PM
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More than one shitbag has ended up shot in the back as he tried to flee while providing his own covering fire.
#11
Old 10-25-2012, 10:24 PM
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From 2012 Minnesota Statutes on use of force (abridged):
Quote:
609.06 AUTHORIZED USE OF FORCE.

Subdivision 1.When authorized. <>reasonable force may be used upon or toward the person of another without the other's consent when the following circumstances exist or the actor reasonably believes them to exist:<>
(3) when used by any person in resisting or aiding another to resist an offense against the person; or

(4) when used by any person in lawful possession of real or personal property, or by another assisting the person in lawful possession, in resisting a trespass upon or other unlawful interference with such property;
and also:
Quote:
609.065 JUSTIFIABLE TAKING OF LIFE.

The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode.
IANAL, but I read that last as you can shoot in robber in the back (in your home) if it's the only way to prevent the commission of a felony (i.e., them stealing your stuff). However, given the focus on "reasonable force" in the larger statute, you'd have to make a damn good case that no lesser force would do. So tackle them or pistol-whip them in the head first; if they fight back, THEN shoot them.
#12
Old 10-25-2012, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
If he's in your house, he's your rightful prey where I live.
Same here. So long as you feel threatened, you can shoot. The cop who helped me get my carry permit told me that an intruder in my home was a threat. He said I should pull the trigger until I no longer felt threatened.
#13
Old 10-25-2012, 11:22 PM
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There is absolutely no duty to retreat in your own home in South Carolina. I assume that means that if it's, like, a five year old then they might charge you, but generally speaking you're going to get your ass shot in this state. A cop once actually advised me that if I shot a guy coming through the window I should drag his ass all the way through before I called 911, which I suspect is more presence of mind than I would have at the time. Plus more upper body strength. (And wouldn't it be, you know, obvious?) I was told in a CCW class that I took via a very weird series of events that technically some believe our laws in this state allow us to shoot people in our yards, but there's never been a good test case. I assume a good test case would be me, Flower of Southern White Womanhood, failing to drag a full grown man through a window all on my lonesome.
#14
Old 10-26-2012, 12:18 AM
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*this won't help much*

i got into a debate about guard dog law when i first got my doberman. the people on the dobie forum told me it's illegal to even post "caution: guard dog" signs because it connotes some "intention to allow your dog to attack," and such signage serves as liability once someone is attacked. they even suggested their own clever rewordings of signs in order to skirt this perceived law. it turns out they don't know what they are taking about...

i did a lot of research back in and even conferred with some lawyers. the conclusion drawn was that since this is private, industrial (business) property with posted keep out signs, dog can eat you if you come over the fence. legally. my take away was even if a kid trespasses to collect an errant frisbee, he can be "legally" attacked, by either me or the dog (we have fairly liberal castle law here). this went into play when someone cut a hole in the fence and came in the night to steal our work truck. my dog heard it and i released him outside before i even knew what was going on. they tore ass out of the lot (off the property) and barely made it before the dog got them. so as i understood things (through research and questioning), that was fine so long as they were still on the property.

however, we had a huge dust-up when a pharmacist was robbed and shot the armed intruders. he got into big trouble for 1. chasing the assailants out of the front door and firing upon them as they fled and 2. reloading and secondarily shooting a wounded suspect who remained in the building (subsequently making sure the writhing robber was good and dead). the business owner was charged for manslaughter and is in prison now.

this article explains the use of deadly force to prevent escape (by an officer) is only permitted when someone is in immediate danger.

used to be you could shoot any fleeing felon. ^that benchmark makes it no longer the case.


i am struggling to find any cites or cases involving use of deadly force on a fleeing suspect pertaining to civilians. all the pings bring back caselaw on police officers. i hope someone else has more insight.

eta this site claims you cannot shoot a fleeing criminal under castle law.

Last edited by dontbesojumpy; 10-26-2012 at 12:23 AM.
#15
Old 10-26-2012, 12:04 PM
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It used to be legal to shoot a fleeing suspect who refused to stop. SCOTUS found this to be overkill and was therefore unconstitutional.

SCOTUS ruling in Tennessee v. Garner - 471 U.S. 1 (1985)

The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Pp. 497 U. S. 7-22.

Emphasis added.

So no, you may only shoot to end a threat and not just to stop someone from running.
#16
Old 10-26-2012, 12:32 PM
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If you do, roll him over and put your first shot in his front.
#17
Old 10-26-2012, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solosam View Post
It used to be legal to shoot a fleeing suspect who refused to stop. SCOTUS found this to be overkill and was therefore unconstitutional.

SCOTUS ruling in Tennessee v. Garner - 471 U.S. 1 (1985)

The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Pp. 497 U. S. 7-22.

Emphasis added.

So no, you may only shoot to end a threat and not just to stop someone from running.
But a threat only to you and your relatives? What if you just witnessed someone killing somebody and now he is running but still holding a weapon? Doesn't that count as a threat he still may posing, well maybe not to you, but to other people?

Last edited by Qwertol; 10-26-2012 at 02:29 PM.
#18
Old 10-26-2012, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
But a threat only to you and your relatives? What if you just witnessed someone killing somebody and now he is running but still holding a weapon? Doesn't that count as a threat he still may posing, well maybe not to you, but to other people?
I repeat:

"...the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others."
#19
Old 10-26-2012, 04:32 PM
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Anecdotal: not long before I left Alaska, a pastor in Wasilla (big surprise) shot and killed two young burglars fleeing his church/home. Both were shot in the back. The pastor was not tried for any crime.
#20
Old 10-26-2012, 04:59 PM
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The pastor was tried and acquitted.

Jury acquits pastor of shooting burglars in the back (memberhip required)
Quote:
The Big Lake preacher who shot and killed two men he caught burglarizing his church was acquitted of all charges Monday.

A jury of five men and seven women deliberated a day and half before finding the Rev. Phillip Mielke, 44, not guilty on four counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
...

He fired twice at the men, hitting both in the back, and then kept shooting as one fled the church.
...

He never got a good look at the intruders before firing and then continued to fire at one man as he ran away.

Last edited by Fear Itself; 10-26-2012 at 05:01 PM.
#21
Old 10-26-2012, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
The pastor was tried and acquitted.

Jury acquits pastor of shooting burglars in the back (memberhip required)
Ah, thanks. I thought he had been tried, and originally I wrote "acquitted", but then my wife thought he never went to trial, and being a lazy sod I didn't bother to fact-check.
#22
Old 10-26-2012, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
Ah, thanks. I thought he had been tried, and originally I wrote "acquitted", but then my wife thought he never went to trial, and being a lazy sod I didn't bother to fact-check.
Never trust a woman
#23
Old 10-26-2012, 08:49 PM
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Shoot a robber in the back
Doo-dah doo-dah
Not an unprovoked attack
Oh de doo-dah day.

If you run away
Now you better say
"I ain't got any of your stuff
It's piled on your duvet!"

(Camp Town Castle Doctrine?)
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