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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so I hope this is in the right place, sorry if it is not.

I was looking at the self-defense laws of Virginia today because I realized that I need to know those as well as the carrying laws since I want to take my classes and training soon. In In Virginia, we cannot defend our property if there is threat to property,only if the BG poses a threat to me or my loved ones. Is this common? I always thought that using a gun to protect your property was legal. Any one from VA want to shed a little light on this?

Thanks,
 

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[[DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LAWYER, DO NOT TAKE MY WORDS FOR LEGAL ADVICE]]
Sounds like you're referring to the commonly-termed "Castle Doctrine"

My understanding of current Virginia Law boils down to "proportional response" and "back against the wall".

In layman's terms, you're only justified in defending yourself with force proportional to that which is attacking you. If someone open-palm-slaps someone else, that's not justifiable cause to brandish or use lethal force; however, if the attacker then reaches behind them to grab some unseen object, then preparing lethal force becomes an option.

Justifiable defense pertains to an unprovoked attack; in this case, you are the victim and are clearly defending yourself. However, if you had any part in the provocation, then you're required to exhaust all other options (back to the wall) before escalating the force with which you respond.

Generally speaking, if there is good reason to believe that you or someone else faces a potentially lethal threat, then you are allowed to respond to that threat with lethal force. This does NOT apply to cases where "property" is at risk; if someone breaks into your house and you catch them walking out with your TV, you can't shoot them. But you CAN brandish in some cases, if there is reason to believe that their presence presents a threat to you or someone around you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
See I thought i read that even brandishing a firearm was not allowed. Ill post it, I just gotta find it again
 

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Discussion Starter #4
[T]he owner of land has no right to assault a mere trespasser with a deadly weapon.. . . . [A] deadly weapon may not be brandished solely in defense of personal property.
Commonwealth v. Alexander, 260 Va. 238, 241, 242, 531 S.E.2d 567, ___ (2000).
 

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Let me use MEMOS words for myself too;

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LAWYER, DO NOT TAKE MY WORDS FOR LEGAL ADVICE


Yeah VA is F'd up. Has some of the most pro gun ownership laws around but some of the worst self defense laws of self and home in the country. I have never understood why VA doesn't have the castle doctrine.

In my CC class we had an attorney teaching part of the class. I remember him saying to NEVER brndish a gun. You only show that gun if you are going to use it.

And, if you're going to use it, it better be because the threat was IMMINENT and you MUST be in danger of being killed or in danger of great bodily harm before you are entitled to use of deadly force.

BRANDISHING INFO Virginia Case Law on Firearms and the Use of Deadly Force

SELF DEFENSE INFO http://www.virginia1774.org/Page6.html


In the context of a self-defense plea, "imminent danger" is defined as "[a]n immediate, real threat to one’s safety . . . ." Black’s Law Dictionary 399 (7th ed. 1999). "There must be . . . some act menacing present peril . . . [and] [t]he act . . . must be of such a character as to afford a reasonable ground for believing there is a design . . . to do some serious bodily harm, and imminent danger of carrying such design into immediate
execution."

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ya i don't understand that because if i can't even take out my gun before i am in imminent danger or (as the law also states) "back against the wall" i feel it would already be to late to protect myself or my loved ones.

Anyone agree or disagree
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thank you
 

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After reading some of the case briefings of Commonwealther v. Alexander, I'm convinced that the court would find differently if you were the victim of a crime to begin with.

The case in question seemed to deal largely with repossession of property. The repo man was a jerk and started lifting the car when the defendant was still in it. The defendant went inside and retrieved a rifle, then brandished it at the repo guy.

In this case, the repo man wasn't acting criminally and the defendant would not have reason to believe that his life or safety was in danger. If someone breaks into my house at night, I believe I'm justified in observing that if they're willing to break the law they might be willing to hurt me.

The fact of the matter is, Virginia's law is fairly weak in protecting homeowners' rights. If someone comes onto my yard, I'm not going to draw on 'em ... but if they menace, if they exercise destructive force, if they could be interpreted as a clear and present threat... as always, I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6.
 

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Johick05, the law in Wisconsin is the same. With regards to defending the theft or damage of personal property, one cannot defend the theft or damage of property or belongings with potential lethal force unless they believe their own life to be in imminent danger.

Now ... with that being said [and I am not saying I condone this], when a person breaks into your home, unless a neighbor sees the whole confrontation through a large window or it's captured on video somehow (unlikely), the only evidence of what happened will be the property owner's testimony in court, unless the trespasser lives. Even then, unless you shot the person in the back, no jury is going to take the side of the thief (who broke into your home with bad intentions) over the property owner, who was fearful for their life and the safety of his/her family.

You have to learn the phrase, "I was fearful for my life." Or better yet, if you kill someone who has entered your home without your permission, exercise your right to remain silent and wait to talk to a lawyer. Police will always try to get you to confess or give up some small fact that will later use against you in court. Often times, there is not sufficient evidence to convict someone in a court of law but the suspected perpetrator cracked under Police questioning or offered some piece of information that they shouldn't have.

Not saying I condone criminal activity, at all. I am on the side of law and order all the way. But if you are ever in a situation where there is ANY doubt that you did the right thing, keep your mouth shut until you talk to your lawyer first.

If someone broke into my home, I don't care what the law says, my home defense weapon is out, locked and loaded. You can brandish any weapon you want in your own home. That is the one place you can brandish your weapon as much as you want. And if the intruder does anything but run when they hear my voice or see me, or if he has anything dangerous in his hand whatsoever, I am firing on them – I don't care what the law says.

I think the law in my state also says something to the effect of: the event in question will be considered from the standpoint of a reasonable/average person if they were in that situation, not from the viewpoint of a critical jury with time to dissect the situation after the fact. Bottom line, this is the loophole that accounts for and sympathizes with the person who defended their life, basically accounting for the fact that in a high-stress, dangerous situation, you often have to react and there isn't time to fully assess the situation logically or rationally. Like I said, just don't shoot someone in the back. I don't think you are going to get out of that one.

Just my $.02.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
After reading some of the case briefings of Commonwealther v. Alexander, I'm convinced that the court would find differently if you were the victim of a crime to begin with.

The case in question seemed to deal largely with repossession of property. The repo man was a jerk and started lifting the car when the defendant was still in it. The defendant went inside and retrieved a rifle, then brandished it at the repo guy.

In this case, the repo man wasn't acting criminally and the defendant would not have reason to believe that his life or safety was in danger. If someone breaks into my house at night, I believe I'm justified in observing that if they're willing to break the law they might be willing to hurt me.

The fact of the matter is, Virginia's law is fairly weak in protecting homeowners' rights. If someone comes onto my yard, I'm not going to draw on 'em ... but if they menace, if they exercise destructive force, if they could be interpreted as a clear and present threat... as always, I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6.
Johick05, the law in Wisconsin is the same. With regards to defending the theft or damage of personal property, one cannot defend the theft or damage of property or belongings with potential lethal force unless they believe their own life to be in imminent danger.

Now ... with that being said [and I am not saying I condone this], when a person breaks into your home, unless a neighbor sees the whole confrontation through a large window or it's captured on video somehow (unlikely), the only evidence of what happened will be the property owner's testimony in court, unless the trespasser lives. Even then, unless you shot the person in the back, no jury is going to take the side of the thief (who broke into your home with bad intentions) over the property owner, who was fearful for their life and the safety of his/her family.

You have to learn the phrase, "I was fearful for my life." Or better yet, if you kill someone who has entered your home without your permission, exercise your right to remain silent and wait to talk to a lawyer. Police will always try to get you to confess or give up some small fact that will later use against you in court. Often times, there is not sufficient evidence to convict someone in a court of law but the suspected perpetrator cracked under Police questioning or offered some piece of information that they shouldn't have.

Not saying I condone criminal activity, at all. I am on the side of law and order all the way. But if you are ever in a situation where there is ANY doubt that you did the right thing, keep your mouth shut until you talk to your lawyer first.

If someone broke into my home, I don't care what the law says, my home defense weapon is out, locked and loaded. You can brandish any weapon you want in your own home. That is the one place you can brandish your weapon as much as you want. And if the intruder does anything but run when they hear my voice or see me, or if he has anything dangerous in his hand whatsoever, I am firing on them – I don't care what the law says.

I think the law in my state also says something to the effect of: the event in question will be considered from the standpoint of a reasonable/average person if they were in that situation, not from the viewpoint of a critical jury with time to dissect the situation after the fact. Bottom line, this is the loophole that accounts for and sympathizes with the person who defended their life, basically accounting for the fact that in a high-stress, dangerous situation, you often have to react and there isn't time to fully assess the situation logically or rationally. Like I said, just don't shoot someone in the back. I don't think you are going to get out of that one.

Just my $.02.
good point from both of you. Thanks everyone for the help with this
 

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Johick - in additional to the gun safety classes required for the CHP, we also do a class on Va. carry laws and the use of deadly force. Check our website for details.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
thank you
 

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Ok so I hope this is in the right place, sorry if it is not.

I was looking at the self-defense laws of Virginia today because I realized that I need to know those as well as the carrying laws since I want to take my classes and training soon. In In Virginia, we cannot defend our property if there is threat to property,only if the BG poses a threat to me or my loved ones. Is this common? I always thought that using a gun to protect your property was legal. Any one from VA want to shed a little light on this?

Thanks,
I just took a look see on VA laws. You might want to go back and re read them.

Virginia Code § 18.2-280

18.2-280. Willfully discharging firearms in public places.
A. If any person willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearmin any street in a city or town, or in any place of public business or placeof public gathering, and such conduct results in bodily injury to anotherperson, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. If such conduct does notresult in bodily injury to another person, he shall be guilty of a Class 1misdemeanor.
B. If any person willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearmupon the buildings and grounds of any public, private or religiouselementary, middle or high school, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony,unless he is engaged in a program or curriculum sponsored by or conductedwith permission of a public, private or religious school.
C. If any person willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearmupon any public property within 1,000 feet of the property line of anypublic, private or religious elementary, middle or high school property heshall be guilty of a Class 4 felony, unless he is engaged in lawful hunting.
D. This section shall not apply to any law-enforcement officer in theperformance of his official duties nor to any other person whose said willfulact is otherwise justifiable or excusable at law in the protection of hislife or property, or is otherwise specifically authorized by law.
E. Nothing in this statute shall preclude the Commonwealth from electing toprosecute under any other applicable provision of law instead of this section.
found here

Virginia Code § 18.2-280 - Willfully discharging firearms in public places :: 2006 Virginia Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia

I do not live there so I could really care less. I did find this of interest though.

D. This section shall not apply to any law-enforcement officer in theperformance of his official duties nor to any other person whose said willfulact is otherwise justifiable or excusable at law in the protection of hislife or property, or is otherwise specifically authorized by law.
The law itself says you can discharge a firearm to protect property.......
 

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I just took a look see on VA laws. You might want to go back and re read them.

Virginia Code § 18.2-280



found here

Virginia Code § 18.2-280 - Willfully discharging firearms in public places :: 2006 Virginia Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia

I do not live there so I could really care less. I did find this of interest though.



The law itself says you can discharge a firearm to protect property.......
You are not reading that correctly. You cannot use deadly force to protect property in Va.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
^ Correct. Has to do be last resort kind of thing as I have understood it.
 

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^ Correct. Has to do be last resort kind of thing as I have understood it.
Come take my class and I'll tell ya all about it! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Come take my class and I'll tell ya all about it! :)
I am really interested, just don't want to drive about 2 hrs to hang out with you and have fun. :p
 
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