Local attorney weighs in on legal rights for home protection

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Lafayette police said a south side homeowner shot at a suspected intruder as he was leaving in a vehicle Wednesday.

Police said they do not believe the person was shot as he left the scene.

However, local attorney Bruce Graham said while the law allows someone to shoot an intruder in self-defense, a homeowner’s actions could lead to a criminal charge depending on the situation.

“If somebody breaks in, they get what’s coming to them,” said Lafayette resident Douglas Collins. “If it’s getting shot at, then they get shot at.”

Using deadly force to protect yourself from a home intruder is a second amendment right, but the right becomes a little unclear once the criminal makes their way outside.

“I’ve always heard that if they’re outside your house then they really haven’t intruded into your home so you could be responsible,” said Lafayette resident Robin Probst.

Local attorney Bruce Graham said that’s not necessarily true.

“It doesn’t matter where they end up,” said Graham. “If they attack you, or they attack your home you’re entitled to deal with them with a deadly weapon.”

Graham said the law allows someone to shoot an intruder in self-defense.

However, Graham said that may not be the case if the homeowner fires a gun at an intruder trying to leave.

“Can you shoot them when they’re clearly in retreat?” asked Graham. “That may be up to a prosecutor to figure out whether or not to charge it and it may be up to a jury ultimately to decide if somebody committed an offense.”

Regardless of the situation, Graham said an important part of protecting yourself legally is practicing gun safety.

“There’s so many facts involved in defense of property and person,” said Graham. It’s just hard to summarize them. Training. If you’re going to have a gun, learn how to use it and when to use it.”

Graham said homeowners can use force to make an arrest as a citizen, and you can use deadly force if necessary.

Lafayette police said Wednesday’s alleged home invasion is still under investigation.