This past May, Robby Charles Blount was shot and killed in the small town of Marshville, near Charlotte, after breaking into a house wearing a mask and armed with a handgun. The Union County Sheriff’s Office reported that Mr. Blount, 25, died in the front yard after the homeowner, who called 911 to report the burglary in progress, managed to get hold of a weapon and fire at him.
What are my rights if my house is being broken into?
Under North Carolina law, if someone is threatening to harm you imminently, you have the right to use force to defend yourself from harm. A burglar is presumed to have intent to use violence to carry out a crime, which means that you are not expected to retreat from your own home, and have the right to use force to protect yourself. In addition, when you become aware that a burglar is in the process of or has broken into your house, the law presumes that you are in fear of imminent death or serious injury to yourself or another person. This legal presumption gives you the right to use deadly force in certain situations.
Can I be liable for killing an intruder?
The law distinguishes between using non-deadly force to defend yourself, and using deadly force. You are generally immune from civil or criminal liability for using non-deadly force against an attacker, but you have the right to use deadly force against a burglar and are immune from criminal or civil liability, unless any of the following apply:
The “burglar” has the legal right to enter, and is not subject to a restraining order
You are carrying out or have just carried out a crime in which you used violence
The person entering your home is a law enforcement officer or a bail bondsman, and identified himself or herself as such
The intruder has stopped trying to break in, and has left your property
If the burglar attempts to defend himself from your use of defensive force, it is generally not considered justified. However, the burglar is legally justified in using force if he or she is at risk of imminent death or serious injury from your use of force and has no means of escape other than through that use of force. Similarly, if the burglar expresses a willingness to end the use of force, but you persist, he is legally justified in using force to defend himself from imminent risk of death or serious injury.
Posted in Criminal Defense | Tagged burglary, criminal defense attorney, North Carolina criminal law