Defense of your physical home

So it’s a given that the use of deadly force can only be used when you or your family members are threatened with extreme physical harm or death, but what do the laws say about people showing up at your home in a riot situation and starting to destroy your house-car-physical property? is the average homeowner allowed to protect their physical property from being vandalized or burned? I live in CA which is primed for protests-riots if Trump gets re-elected and we’ve seen in other areas that they’ve been venturing out into neighborhoods. Thoughts?


In Florida, you are allowed to protect your property, but not with deadly force. However, if vandalism escalates into arson, you are allowed use of deadly weapons.


Let’s say they are dousing your house with gasoline as part of their act, you got your wife and kids in the house, you are armed, the match or lighter is about to be lit, are you protecting your property, family or both? What takes priority?


This is true!

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Hi Bill…you’re not alone…I’m in the looney land of California also. I don’t think there’s an easy answer for us. I did find a couple legal takes on our Castle Doctrine for you to check out

Everything I see and read indicates that we seem to be “allowed” to use a proportionate level of force against a threat. So it comes down to you and the situation I suppose.

I hope Trump does win in November because we know better than any that Harris should be behind bars for her illegal activities, not VP or potentially president if biden finally goes full brain dead. Like you, I too worry for my family should people start rioting like they have over the decision. Frankly, while making no decisions up front, if there were a group of people looking to throw moltov cocktails at my home while my family was inside, that situation certainly seems like a proportionate response would be to shoot those people with moltov cocktails and try and prevent my family from burning to death. Again, I’m not suggesting anything as a what would I do because I’m neither in that circumstance nor am I a lawyer who can say with any level of certainty that i’m right…only that I would hope it’s a proportionate level since they have the numbers and are threatening to burn my home with me and my family inside so to act against superior numbers by shooting seems logical to me. As for anything else…You’ll really have to determine that for yourself IN the situation and do what you can to cover your rear. Call Police! Whether or not they come or not doesn’t matter, just calling them and having it on record that you fear for your life and the lives of your family might be the extra help to solidify self defense.


You have to be able to articulate a deadly threat.

If a rioter enters your house castle doctrine applies, they are presumed to have lethal intent and lethal force is justified (up to you if you choose to actually use lethal or not).

If a rioter(s) is on your porch yelling and screaming, that is not a lethal threat.

A rioter about to throw a molotov cocktail at your house is a lethal threat. But you better be really sure thats a molotov cocktail.

If a rioter is smashing your car, that is not a lethal threat.
ETA: Clarification pointed out by @Dawn below… An empty car in your driveway being smashed is not a lethal threat. A car that has people in it, that is being smashed may be lethal force.


Just don’t believe or try the old shoot em outside drag em in the House deal… forensics and cameras.


Just a quick point of clarification for those who are newer to self-defense: If your car is in your driveway and you are not in it, you’re right that wouldn’t be lethal force. If you’re in your car at the time they’re smashing windows, you may have an argument for lethal force.


Absolutely right @Dawn, I edited my post above


It also depends on what state you are in at the time. In Texas, you are legally able to shoot in defense of property, especially horses! (j/k, but people that own horses would likely agree) In Virginia, one cannot use lethal force in defense of property. However, we are still “allowed” to use less than lethal force, only up to the force needed. Now, if you go outside to stop the loss of property and during your defense of property are being assaulted and in fear of great bodily harm or death, then lethal force becomes justified.

It would also be justified if a credible threat of such is made, that is able to be done to you, intent and proximity, without actual harm occurring to you yet. Such as a mob is coming onto your property and starts to angrily run towards you yelling they are going to beat you/kill you, you might not be able to retreat quickly enough to get away. You do not have to wait until they start beating you to death to use lethal force, disparity of force plays a part in your justification. So, even though you cannot use lethal force to prevent a property crime, in the course of stopping it, if lethal force becomes necessary, it is justified. You just cannot foment or escalate the assault.


Fire is self-propagating, uncontrollable, and deadly. Lets say, you have a wooden deck attached to your house and they are setting fire to it, not directly to the house. This fire can spread onto your house within minutes, now presenting imminent deadly threat to everyone within its walls, and potentially preventing escape.


10 years ago I sat on a jury for a murder trial from a drug deal gone bad. The defendant only had to convince the jury that he truly believed that his life was in danger, and he was declared not guilty. The facts of the case did support it, but the judge instructed us that this was the only burden of proof (in Michigan). No castle doctrine; the defendant was in the dead guy’s house when this occurred.