You can use force to protect your property in Missouri. However, you cannot use deadly force to protect your property. It’s a very important distinction to understand.
Using Deadly Force
You may use deadly force if there is an imminent threat of deadly force being used against you or a third party. If property is the only matter at stake—for instance, let’s say you walk out your front door and you see someone trying to break into your car—you cannot shoot them. You’ll very likely go to jail if you do.
Now, what about the Castle Doctrine? In Missouri, we do have something that we might call the Castle Doctrine, which provides that if you are in your home and someone breaks into your home to commit a forcible felony, you can use deadly force to protect yourself. It will be assumed that you were correct in using that deadly force within your home if someone breaks in in the course of committing a felony.
Stand Your Ground
Now, what is the Stand Your Ground law? If you are in a public place you do not have a duty to retreat. You can stand your ground and protect yourself. If someone is trying to use deadly force against you, you can use deadly force against them. However, there must be a direct threat against you and not just your property.
Let’s say you’ve placed your book bag down on a park bench and you’re standing several feet away. Someone runs over and grabs that book bag and starts to run with it. You cannot shoot that person. You’ll end up in prison.
What you can do is use reasonable force. What would reasonable force be under those circumstances? It differs from person to person and situation to situation. The clear rule is that the force that you use cannot be deadly force.
Let’s use three examples: burglary, robbery, and theft. If you’re in your home and someone breaks into that home and approaches you, and you’re in fear that deadly force is going to be used against you. Are you justified in using deadly force to protect yourself? Yes. In fact, it will be presumed that because you were in your home and that person was not supposed to be there, they were in the course of committing a felony, and that you used force appropriately.
What about a situation where you are walking in the park and someone mugs you? You’re being robbed. Can you use deadly force to protect yourself? If you have a reasonable belief that deadly force is about to be inflicted upon you, you would then be justified to use deadly force against that person, the aggressor, the attacker. However, if that person is clearly only going for your property you can only use reasonable force to protect yourself and not deadly force.
Now, let’s say you’re walking in the park and you’ve set your laptop down on a park bench. If you see someone grab that laptop and start to run, you cannot use deadly force against them. You can only use reasonable force to try and protect your property.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
What is reasonable force?
Reasonable force is the amount needed to stop the threat that does not result in death or permanent disability. If it is not reasonable we often here it referred to as excessive force.
I don’t quite get the difference between deadly and reasonably force. Would a good example of reasonable being shooting someone in a non vital area, or is that still illegal?
No, under the law any discharge of a firearm is a use of deadly force! Reasonable force is any method to subdue someone that is non-lethal or will not cause permanent or long term injury…stun gun, taser, pepper spray, night stick (if you have been properly trained to use one), physically restraining them (though, probably not recommended nor the safest method), etc.
What if you were approached by a mob or protesters trying to get in your vehicle while your in the car and fell threaten for your life.. Can you shot the legally??
I’d like to know the answer to Joe’s question above also.
Yes… your life is in danger
Today some guy during daylight stopped his car in front on my house. Came up to my front porch flipped over my kids picnic table. Took a plastic basket we had with kids toys in it. Dumped the toys and stole the basket. As I am standing on my porch half out of my screen door. I was in such shock I didn’t know what to do.
Just curious if a shotgun with a light load of rock salt or bird shot which will almost for sure not kill someone but put a bunch of BBS or Rock salt in there ass would that be excessive force?
Yes. Under the law, any discharge of a firearm is deadly force. Even if your intent is to only inflict pain or maim, you are using deadly force to accomplish it…not to mention, going into court and saying “I wasn’t trying to kill him, only hurt him really badly” usually doesn’t harbor good intentions with juries…further, it could backfire…with serious consequences. Trespassing is a property crime, and generally a misdemeanor one at that, but you are suddenly putting them in fear of their life and in a position where they may feel compelled to defend themselves with deadly force! Sure, they shouldn’t have been there but you shouldn’t have been shooting at them.
If you’re in a situation where that is a common problem, you are much better off using a taser and with it, the clear intention that you are not employing deadly force.
what if you are a felon and someone come to your house to harm you, can u use deadly force then
Good question my guy!
The law is BS! So now the muggers and looters are so brazen they walk into stores and load up shopping carts and just walk out. These laws must be re-thought. The current policy clearly is not working. How is a weaker person ever going to get their hard earned money or property back? They won’t. Every citizen becomes a bank for these thieves. Politicians need to start understanding one’s property is one’s life and should be able to be defended by anything short of deadly force which means up to gunfire that maims but does not kill.
Good question my guy!