Is Deadly Force Justified to Protect Your Property in Georgia?

Treadaway & Treadaway Feb. 11, 2019

Georgia law permits deadly force to protect property and defines when you may use force. In some cases, however, deadly force could result in a murder charge. Questions about protecting yourself and your property often come into play with the increase in crime in certain areas. According to The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, there were 350.2 violent crimes per 100,000 and 2,797.1 property crimes per 100,000 in 2017.

Using Force Against Another

If you must use force against another person, you must believe that force is the only way to stop a person from entering your property unlawfully or attacking you. However, deadly force or force used to cause “great bodily harm” is only allowed under certain circumstances.

If someone is violently entering your home or you believe that someone is trying to break in to harm you or someone in your home, you may use any force that you deem necessary to stop the assault on you or someone in your home. The force cannot be against a family member or someone who lives in the home, even if that person is not family. The victim must also be aware that he or she is seeking to make unlawful entry. Alternatively, if the person knows he or she is breaking in with the intent to commit a felony, you are justified in using the amount of force necessary to stop that person from committing a felony on your person and/or property.

Property Restrictions

You may only use force to protect certain property, including your own home. In some cases, you are able to protect property that is not yours. That property has to be legally in your possession, such as a borrowed vehicle or a home you are watching for someone. You may also use force if that property is under the care of someone in your immediate family or if you have a legal duty to protect that property. While force is justified, deadly force or force used with the intent to cause great bodily harm is only justifiable if you believe the person entering the property has every intention of committing a forcible felony.

If you have had to use force or deadly force to protect property, contact our Georgia criminal attorneys at Treadaway & Treadaway immediately.