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Colorado: Can I Use Force Against Someone Burglarizing My Car?


Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Welcome Members and Fellow Gun Owners. In the last Member’s Voice video, our member Tyler witnessed a criminal breaking into his car.

Tyler drew his gun, and the bad guys ran away.

The legal questions started pouring in, and Members, you wanted to know your legal rights in your state. So here’s your U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards to give you insight on what the law says.

U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards:

Hello, Doug Richards here for U.S. Law Shield of Colorado, coming to you from my Denver, Colorado office.

It’s a beautiful day in Colorado because every day in Colorado is beautiful, and the one thing I want to talk to you about today is whether or not you can do something about a person who is burglarizing your vehicle in your driveway.

And this one comes a little bit, hits a personal side for me, because I actually a couple years ago had my car stolen, and I often think, “My goodness, what if I had walked up on that person stealing my car? What would I have done?” And what would I have done or what should I have done is really the topic of today’s discussion.

A lot of times people want to think that if they see somebody burglarizing their car or doing some vandalism, or even trying to steal their vehicle, they think, “Hey, look, I’ve got my gun, I’m going to go confront this person. I’m going to hold them at gunpoint, and I’m going to you know I’m going to save the day.”

Don’t do it. Stay inside your home.

If you’re in your house, and you see somebody burglarizing your car, call 9-1-1. Maybe you yell outside, you know, turn the lights on, you yell outside at the person, and let them know that you’re watching them. But stay indoors. You don’t know how many people are there. You don’t know if there’s a getaway car, and somebody backing them up, and whether or not those people are armed. You simply do not know all of the facts.

And it’s impossible for you to really assess all of those things in a very short period of time. If it’s only property they’re after, let them have it. Your health, your safety, is your number-one priority, so stay locked inside of your house.

But what happens if you are in a parking lot, and you walked up on it, and you see somebody doing this nefarious activity? Again I would stay back. I would call 9-1-1. I would get the police on the phone and then maybe yell out at the person, “Hey listen, police are on their way,” if you want to do that.

I probably would not do that. I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself. I wouldn’t want that person or their affiliates and associates to think that I was a threat to them so that maybe they would engage me.

Again, your firearm that you’re possessing, either carrying it or carrying it concealed, is there to stop threats that are coming at you. It’s not for you to go out and become the law-enforcement member of the community or the area. You know where you are, even if it’s your own property.

Now, again, could you do it? Sure, you could do it, but you really shouldn’t do it.

Here’s the other reason why you shouldn’t do it in Colorado. There is no right to use deadly force to defend your personal property. So if you are going to confront somebody, and they’re just basically vandalizing your car or stealing something out of your car, and you pull your firearm out, and you point your gun at them, and that’s the record, that’s it.

You’re going to be in trouble because you don’t have the right to use deadly force against a person who’s just stealing property and just committing a theft. If the person, however, is holding a crowbar, and you feel threatened by that, or the person is coming at you in a way that you feel threatened that your life, your safety, is in jeopardy, that’s a totally different analysis, but you will always be judged on a reasonableness standard.

Were your actions reasonable under the situation? Did you use an amount of force reasonable under the situation? So again, if you confront the person and they turn around and they just start walking towards you, pulling out your gun and pointing it at them is going to draw a lot more scrutiny than if the person is, you know, holding a weapon.

Again all of this can be avoided if you just call 9-1-1 and report this to the authorities and you stay hunkered down in a position where your life and your safety is not being placed at risk.

If you have any questions about this at all, give me a call at my office, I’m always here, always available, to talk to members about anything they want to chat about—this or anything else. And I look forward to talking to you. Thanks for watching.

Educating you is the cornerstone of U.S. Law Shield. Thank you for being a part of our family.

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