What Can You do to Protect Your Home?

June 2, 2006 -- Posted at 3:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- If you are in your home and someone forcibly breaks in, what can you do to protect yourself, your family, and your property? Can you legally shoot the intruder? "The fact that you were in your home, defending your premises, certainly is something that adheres to the benefit of the person who did the shooting. That person is given a lot more latitude in that situation than he would on the Wal-Mart parking lot," said Craighead County Prosecutor Mike Walden.

Walden says that legally, it's a very gray area on whether you can shoot someone who forcibly enters your home.

"Justification issues are difficult matters. They're often matters that a jury has to decide," said Walden.

Even though a person may be protecting themselves, that doesn't mean it was necessary to use deadly force.

"One thing that I can say is, the law always prefers for a person to retreat from a deadly situation if possible rather than used deadly force. That burden in Arkansas is lessened if you are in your home," said Walden.

In a situation like this one you do have the right to protect yourself and your property, but every situation is different.

"What are you trying to protect yourself from? Are you protecting yourself from a shoe salesman or are you trying to protect yourself from someone who has guns and knives? A jury will assess those situations and see if you acted reasonable and prudently," said Walden.

Cases where an intruder is shot by a homeowner are tricky, because only the person in that situation knows what was happening at the time. If a crime was committed or not isn't clear.

"Things are only crimes if jury's ultimately say they're crimes and convict you," said Walden.