If someone 'breaks into' your driveway, can you legally kill them? | WisCommunity

If someone 'breaks into' your driveway, can you legally kill them?

Hard to believe, but it looks like an Assembly committee has made the bill even worse.  Now you could shoot to kill someone who breaks into your driveway.

It's unclear how this would work, and the legal language isn't available online yet, but the report from WisPolitics.com is that:

The Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics passed an amended version of the so-called "castle doctrine" bill, which would allow a person to use deadly force against anyone who unlawfully forces entry into their home, vehicle or business.

The committee voted 6-2 to approve the bill, with Rep. Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis, joining the five Republicans in favor.

The amended bill would also pertain to "existing structures" on residential property, including fences, driveways and porches. The bill also states that a judge or jury may not consider whether the owner had the opportunity to flee from those gaining entry..

[O]ther members asked for clarification from Leg Council on what they said were gray areas in the legislation. Many of those hypothetical cases, including use of force at business parking lots, farmland or municipal sidewalks adjoining a house, would be up to interpretation.

The law was supposed to protect people who shot someone who was breaking in or trying to forcibly enter their property.

Now you can shoot someone who is breaking into your driveway? How, exactly, will that work? Would people now be free to shoot anyone trespassing on their property -- like stepping on your driveway without permission?

Here are the basics of the issue, as explained by the

Currently, it is not reasonable to use force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily (substantial) harm for the sole purpose of defending property. Wis. Stat. section 939.49(1). Deadly force is only justified if a person reasonably believes such force is necessary to defend against imminent death or substantial harm. Section 939.48(1).

When someone asserts a self-defense claim to justify the killing of another person, the state has the burden to prove the killing was unreasonable (if the state believes that to be the case). That is, the state must show the force used was not necessary, and neither substantial harm nor death was imminent....

Under proposed legislation, a court must presume a resident was justified in killing a person, regardless of whether the resident reasonably believes the force is necessary to defend against imminent death or substantial harm, if certain conditions exist.

Testifying before the Assembly’s Judiciary and Ethics Committee in March, NRA Liaison Darren La Sorte said the “shoot first and ask questions” later mentality of the castle doctrine law is justified when someone unlawfully and forcibly enters the home.

La Sorte asked for amendments that would extend castle doctrine protections to “dwellings” instead of just “residences,” and include “vehicles” to account for car-jacking situations.

The presumption applies if a person entered or was in the process of entering the residence “unlawfully” and by force, the resident was home, and the resident knew or reasonably believed that an unlawful and forcible entry was occurring or had occurred.

 That is, the resident would benefit from an instruction to the jury that use of deadly or substantial force is presumed “reasonable” if the jury finds that someone unlawfully and forcibly entered or attempted to enter the residence when the resident is inside.

This is the first step down a extremely (get it?) slippery slope. In some states, you now can pretty much fire away anywhere you feel threatened. Combine that with concealed carry, and you have the potential for some real disasters, with innocent, unarmed people being killed and their killers getting off scot-free, because they felt "threatened. Is that where Wisconsin wants to be headed? It's where the National Rifle Association and pro-gun extremists want to lead us.

It's not too late to stop this lunacy -- the bill hasn't passed yet -- but it will be soon, unless people speak up. So far, it's awfully quiet out there.

[This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.]


September 30, 2011 - 4:14pm