Can You Shoot Someone Who Breaks Into Your House?

Last Modified: April 11, 2022
February 9, 2022 | Rabin Nabizadeh | Theft
can-you-shoot-someone-who-breaks-into-your-houseHome invasion is a terrifying thought. Your first instinct when an intruder breaks inside your house while at home might be to grab your revolver and fight back. But, there are many contradicting details about what you can and cannot do to protect yourself in this situation.

Few people know if they can shoot a house burglar, and most people don’t even know what laws are in self-defense. Making an incorrect decision here can further jeopardize the situation.

Our criminal defense law firm created this article to help you understand your rights as a victim of a house invasion. This article will talk more about self-defense laws. Read on to understand your rights further and make informed decisions during these crucial times.

What Is Self-Defense?

In the most basic sense, self-defense is the act of protecting yourself against attempts of harm. A convicted individual may use this as legal defense if he believes he acted out of an intent to protect himself against harm.

If you hurt someone out of self-defense, the court will see this as a valid defense in a legal context. They have no reason to give criminal charges for an act of self-defense. You may claim self-defense was necessary under the law if:

  • You were protecting yourself, your family, someone who cannot defend themselves, or your home.
  • The person you harmed was unlawfully trying to enter your house.
  • You had reason to believe they may use unlawful force on you or others.

Is It Self-Defense If I Shoot Someone Who Breaks Into My House?

self-defense-shooting-someone-breaking-into-houseIt’s a question many people from every state are asking themselves in the wake of high-profile home invasions. Each state has its statute governing the use of force in terms of self-defense.

This goes back to our definition of self-defense. The self-defense law states that you can use force to retaliate when facing harm. In some cases, a person might use deadly force if they have a reasonable belief that it will protect them from harm.

So, by the law, if you believe that an intruder has access to your home and has an intent to hurt you, then the use of force is justifiable. If ever you shot the intruder during the process, you can claim that you did it out of self-defense. It’s worth noting that self-defense laws vary in each state.

But, this doesn’t mean that you can shoot someone who shows up at your front door uninvited. You must prove that the intruder intends to attack to validate your self-defense claim. Shooting someone without an intent to harm you can result in criminal charges.

In essence, self-defense is a complicated area of the law. The use of lethal force is only valid in the face of imminent danger. However, certain situations do not guarantee protection by the law. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best action when you happen to shoot someone during an immediate threat.

When Can Self-Defense Be Used As A Legal Defense?

We have already mentioned that self-defense is valid in some situations. But, this doesn’t mean you can use it as a legal defense all the time. There are specific criteria to consider when using this as a legal defense.

Self-defense can only be used as a legal defense when:

  • You are facing an impending threat. As established in the previous section, you can use force when faced with a threat. Using lethal force to defend yourself is reasonable in an imminent threat.
  • You possess a reasonable belief. You can argue that you used physical force to defend yourself against a dangerous situation. As long as there is a compelling reason to employ excessive force, you can use self-defense in your argument.
  • You believe that the force was necessary. In some cases, the use of extreme force is necessary to defend yourself against specific threats. However, shooting a violator is not always reasonable, depending on the situation you are facing.
  • You have no duty to retreat. California self-defense laws state that you don’t have to retreat to prove self-defense. As long as a threat is present and the use of lethal force is necessary, then you can use this in your argument.
  • In cases where you are the initial aggressor. Suppose you initially started a fight, and the other person stabbed you with a knife. In that case, you can shoot the other person to defend yourself.

Your Right To Defend Others And Defending Personal Property

right-to-defend-others-defending-personal-propertyThe use of deadly force is also valid in defending others. Suppose someone you love has their life threatened, and the use of force will protect them from harm. In this case, you can employ self-defense to keep them safe.

Here are some instances when the law allows you to defend other people:


  • Your loved one is being attacked;
  • The attack poses a significant threat to the victim’s life;
  • In those cases where you are defending personal property from attackers.

But remember that defending yourself or others doesn’t mean you can use all types of force. It’s worth noting that certain situations do not require the use of extreme force. Also, in cases where the theft is minor and involves substantial property, then expect that the judge will question your actions in court.

What Is The Castle Doctrine, And How Does It Differ From Self-Defense?

Castle Doctrine is sometimes called the Defense of Habitation Law. This law has been employed in several states throughout the United States. The doctrine went back hundreds of years and was initially established in 1604 by Judge Edward Coke.

The doctrine allows you to defend your home from intruders if necessary. This also allows homeowners to use deadly force if the use of such force is necessary. The Castle Doctrine protects homeowners or any individual from an immediate threat inside their private property.

The limitation of this law is that the intruder must show that they intend to harm the victim. The burden of demonstrating the intruder’s intent falls on the victim. If the criminal is already outside their private property, the property owner cannot chase the intruder with a bullet.

In case you need to prove the intent of an intruder, seeking the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be beneficial. Summit Defense criminal defense lawyers will conduct a careful review of your case.

We will gather the necessary evidence and build a solid defense strategy to justify your action.

Can I Use Deadly Force In Self-Defense?

As established in the previous section, the use of deadly force is justified when used in self-defense. Even if you are the original aggressor, you can still use this in defense when the other person hurts you with a deadly weapon.

It’s important to remember that the use of deadly force should be reasonable. In certain circumstances, the use of deadly force is unnecessary. In turn, you might face gun laws violations if you use your gun irresponsibly.

What Are Stand-Your-Ground Laws?

Under California State Law, you don’t need to retreat from a threat to claim self-defense. Unlike Castle Doctrine, you don’t have to be inside your private property to retaliate from a threat. Stand-Your-Ground Law states that you can defend yourself against a threat without fleeing to safety.

In some states, you are required to at least escape a threatening situation before using self-defense. With stand-your-ground law, this is unnecessary.

If You Harmed Someone Because Of Self-Defense And You’re Facing Criminal Charges, Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney ASAP!

criminal-defense-attorney-near-youGun law and self-defense law may sometimes contradict each other. If you are in a situation where you have to justify your act of self-defense, then call our expert criminal defense attorney now! We assisted clients in a similar situation before, and we can definitely help you now!

Call us at 1-866-852-7126 for a free consultation. Our online form is also available for you to fill out.

latest news

February 27, 2024
What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested for a DUI in San Jose
Being arrested for a DUI in San Jose, CA, can have severe penalties, potentially resulting in jail time, losing your driver's license, and other serious consequences. Here's what to do if facing a DUI conviction after being accused of driving over the legal limit and how a California DUI lawyer can help you resolve your case with [...]
February 25, 2024
What Happens When You Get a DUI?
Getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can be a stressful and life-changing event. It starts the moment a law enforcement officer suspects you've been drinking and driving. This can lead to being pulled over, undergoing a field sobriety test, and possibly being arrested. The consequences of a DUI arrest include legal action, potential jail [...]
February 6, 2024
What Can I Expect After Being Arrested for a DUI in San Jose?

Getting arrested for a DUI in San Jose can be a stressful and confusing experience. You might have many questions about what happens next and what you should do. Knowing the process and what to expect can help you navigate this challenging situation. It’s important to remember that a DUI arrest is severe, and the […]