Property can be replaced. Lives cannot.
That simple rationale forms the basis of most laws regarding armed self-defense, and also excludes the use of lethal force to preserve property in most jurisdictions.
There are notable exceptions. The concept known as “castle doctrine” has been around for hundreds of years, and has become part of statutory law in most jurisdictions as well. The basic premise is that anyone breaking in to a home may be considered a threat to the homeowner, justifying a lethal force response.
The common law and statutory variants of castle doctrine have always been intended to protect the people inside the home, not their things. Likewise, there is no legal justification for using deadly force to protect property outside the home or for simply being on your property, as man in Decatur, Alabama just learned the hard way.
Investigators said 68-year-old Willie James Jones woke up and noticed a motion detector light had been activated outside his home. Police said Jones saw someone standing near his pick-up truck in the front yard and armed himself before going to the door to investigate.
According to investigators, the juvenile outside was scared by Jones’ sudden appearance and fled. Jones fired a shot and struck the juvenile in the buttocks.
Authorities arrested Jones for second-degree assault. Police said they charged Jones because he wasn’t in immediate danger or threat of danger when he fired his gun at the juvenile.
Your property is not as important as another human being’s life, no matter how scummy you think that other person may be, nor how much you want to your property.
In this instance, Jones fired as the child was running away, while having done nothing more than trespass.
He’s very lucky that he’s a bad shot, or he might be in prison for something more serious, such as murder.