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4 min read

By: Laura Kennedy

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night and realizing that someone broke into your home and he is holding a knife. Would you shoot in the legs without getting in trouble? Indeed, this is a very important question worthy of an in-depth discussion. Normally, if you shoot the intruder, the questions that might be lingering in your mind are: Could I be sued with murder or assault? Will the burglar sue me for injuries sustained?

Well, the question of whether you will get into trouble or not depends on the state where you live and the conditions surrounding the incidence. Different states have different interpretations of this legal scenario. In the same vein, it’s important to bring in the idea of self-defense to understand the situation better and broaden the scope of discussion

The Concept of Self-Defense

The best place to begin answering this question is from the legal concept of self-defence. Generally, self-defense allows you to defend yourself, but only with a reasonable response. This means that if a person attacks you violently in your home, you have a legal right to defend yourself. So, if you are charged with murder or assault in a court of law, you can use the concept of self-defense as an excuse for your actions. In this case, you have to prove to the court of law that you took a reasonable response to defend yourself. In most legal jurisdictions, if you are using self-defense to defend yourself against a violent crime, the following factors must be factored in:

* You shouldn’t be the aggressor
* You should only use reasonable force to defend yourself
* There should be reasonable justification for the use of force
* There should be enough prove that an attack is about to happen
* Retreating (if possible)

So, based on the above-mentioned, would you get into trouble if someone broke into your home with a knife and shot in the legs? To begin with, it’s significant to point out that there are several things that should be put into perspective. The first thing here is that this is an intruder who breaks into your home. For this reason, you have the right to protect your home because a person has just made an illegal entry into your home. So, in this case, you are not the aggressor. Basically, the best way to know whether you will get in trouble is to answer the following questions:

* Is There Reasonable Justification For The Use Of Force?

If you are charged for using your gun, a court of law will have to determine whether you had a reasonable justification for the use of force against the intruder or not. This is a very important point because it’s possible that the intruder doesn’t display aggressiveness towards you. In fact, it’s possible for an intruder to break into your home but fail to know where you are, meaning that he’s in your house but not violent towards you. Therefore, if you started shooting at the person without him being violent towards you, this has the likelihood of getting you into trouble because there is no reasonable justification for the use of force. You can only use force if you are sure that there is a reason for you to do so.

* Are You Using Reasonable Force To Defend Yourself?

This is a question that you should ask yourself before shooting at a person who breaks into your home. What this means is that you can only defend yourself using a force that is equal or reasonable to what your intruder uses. For example, you shouldn’t use a gun to defend yourself against someone who is using his bare hands. So, in this circumstance, the person who breaks into your home has a knife while you have a gun. If he attacks you and you choose to shoot him in the legs, is this a reasonable force for you to defend yourself with? Obviously, a knife and a gun don’t match at all. Here, you are using a force that isn’t reasonable enough to apply the self-defense concept. You might find yourself in a tight place when defending yourself in a court of law. For this reason, chances are high that you will get into trouble for shooting in the legs of your intruder.

* Is There A Justifiable Belief That An Attack Is About To Happen?

Again, this is another important question that you should ask yourself before shooting at a person who breaks into your home. Yes, someone has unlawfully entered into your house. What is he doing? Is he violent? Does he seem like he is about to start an attack against you? All these are questions that a court of law will have to explore in order to determine if it’s justifiable for you to shoot in the legs of an intruder or not. From a legal perspective, if you choose to use force in a situation where an attack is about to happen, you will have sufficient evidence to defend yourself in a court of law. However, if you choose to use force in a situation that an attack isn’t imminent, you will find yourself in serious legal problems. If an intruder is in your home and there is no indication of imminent danger, you don’t have a legal right to use your gun.

The bottom-line here is that there are different factors that come to the fore in the event that you shoot in the legs of a person who breaks into your home with a knife. Shooting at such a person can land you into problems, but there are scenarios that can work in your favor before a court of law. If you happen to shoot at a person in your home, the best thing to do after that is to call a lawyer to take up the case. There are legal interpretations that only a lawyer can dissect well for you. Thus, finding a good one to represent you will be a prudent idea. Legal matters can be a hard nut to crack. They need a brilliant mind to uncover the complicated details involved.


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