Shooting Intruders: Is It Wrongful Death?

A man's home is his castle, or so the adage goes. However, it does not seem to be your castle if you shoot or kill an intruder. Why is that? Does that law always apply? If you are being sued for wrongful death after killing an intruder, here is what you need to know:

Shooting Intruders Only Applies in Certain States

There are only a set number of states that allow you to shoot or kill an intruder in your home. Texas and Wisconsin are two such states. In other states, it may only be allowed if you can prove criminal intent on the intruder's part. The remaining states will charge you with murder or manslaughter, based on that state's laws.

Fighting the Battle on Two Fronts

First and foremost, you will have to get through any murder charges and prove that you were:

  • Cornered
  • In danger or immediate threat of being harmed
  • Could not escape from the intruder

Many states list the above criteria for self-defense, arguing that you can only shoot or kill someone in your home if all of the above apply. If you are able to run out a back door of your home to get help, that is what the law expects you to do, even if your family is in equal danger of being attacked. If all of the above apply and you shoot or attempt to kill anyway, you may be exonerated.

Secondly, you may be sued by surviving family members of the intruder. As insane as this sounds given the fact that the intruder broke into your home and was committing a crime, the family can still come after you. If they do file a wrongful death suit, you will have to prove that you were well within your rights to defend your "castle" from the intruder.

Consult a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Your State

As you move through the courts with your case(s), you will need help from a wrongful death lawyer. He or she can inform you as to what rights you have in your own state, as well as whether or not you may be convicted of a wrongful death. Compensation for those suing you may include lifelong payments to support surviving children, grief counseling, etc. (You may also need counseling because of the trauma of killing someone in your home.) Be prepared for just about anything, but let your attorney do the work and the talking in court.

Click here for more info on choosing a wrongful death lawyer in your area.