U.S. Law Shield of Georgia Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo:
Hi. This is Matt Kilgo, firearms program attorney for U.S. Law Shield here in Georgia. The question today is on a burglary of your home. If you come home and catch a burglar inside your home or fleeing your home, what does the law allow you to do to protect yourself and your property?
In Georgia you are justified in using deadly force, that force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm, when you reasonably believe entry has been made into your home by another person to commit a felony. Now, that felony can be burglary. And when we talk about burglary in Georgia, we mean someone entering your dwelling with the intent to commit a felony or a theft inside. If you catch someone inside your home and you have reason to believe they've entered your home in order to commit a burglary or another felony, you're justified in the use of deadly force.
Your question may be, well, what if they're not actually holding something in their hands? Doesn't make any difference. If you have a reasonable belief they've entered your home in order to commit a felony, you're justified in the use of deadly force. If you don't see any property in their hands, that's okay. If they turn and run away from you, run into the kitchen, is it still okay to protect yourself? Absolutely.
Every situation is different, and you don't know what's going to happen next. There may be someone else in the kitchen who's going to help. He may be running for the knives. That's where we keep the knives in our house, in the kitchen. Go ahead and protect yourself and protect your family. If he runs for the back door, maybe he's running to get out, but maybe he's running to pick up a gun that he dropped on the way in. Use your best judgment, protect yourself and protect your family.
Now, the question sometimes arises, what if it's my neighbor's house? That's a different story. You're under no obligation or duty to protect your neighbor's house. And if that's the case, unless you have some duty or obligation by law to protect your neighbor's house, your rights aren't the same to use deadly force. In that scenario, I would say the better course of action, alert your neighbors, alert police and stay vigilant.
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