My friend was forced out of a house they trespassed in, at gunpoint by the owner. Was it legal for the owner to do this?
Not to disagree with nearly everyone who has already responded to this, but I disagree with nearly everyone who has already responded to this.But part of the problem is that we don't actually have enough info.Most everywhere in the U.S., when you are not in your house, you have a "duty to flee" unless you cannot reasonably do so. This means that if you can run away that is what you should do. If you can't run away, then you may respond to your aggressor with equal force.Generally speaking that means if your attacker is unarmed, you can fight back unarmed. If your attacker has a non-deadly weapon, then you can use a non-deadly weapon. If your attacker is using lethal force, then you can respond with lethal force.I say nearly everywhere because there are exceptions, like Florida and their "stand your ground" law that changes that. But those are the exceptions to the rule.Of course some of this changes once you are home. In your own home you no longer have a 'duty to flee' and you can defend your home. However the 'respond with equal force' portion does not go away.So, your friends are trespassing. The homeowner shows up and tells them to leave. They refuse and possibly threaten him and he threatens to shoot them. Before anyone can say for sure if the homeowner was justified, we need more info. Such as:- What was the threat?- Was it a realistic threat or just nonsense?- Were the trespassers armed in any way?- Did the threat include whatever it was they were possibly armed with?- Was the homeowner's gun loaded? - Are there drugs present?- Are the trespassers visibly high on drugs? - What were the age, sex and size of the trespassers?- What was the age, sex and size of the homeowner?The last two are not really part of any law, but they will play a part in any jury's deliberation.So here are two scenarios. [Note I've changed the ending in the scenarios from what actually happened]:Scenario 1: The homeowner, a 35 year old male, professional weight lifter and black belt in three types of martial arts, comes home to find four girls all around the age of seventeen in his house. The homeowner recognizes them as local girls from the neighborhood. The girls are all dancing and are all wearing short shorts, tight t-shirts and flip flops. The homeowner tells them to leave and they refuse. One of the girls says, "Chill out. We're just dancing." Another girl says, "If you don't leave us alone I'm gonna call the president and have him drop a nuclear bomb on your house." The home owners goes and gets a gun and threaten the girls. The girls start screaming. Somehow in the confusion the gun goes off and one of the girls gets shot, but fortunately nobody dies.Scenario 2: The homeowner, a 72 year old, retired female librarian who walks with a cane, comes home to find four large men partying in her living room. She does not recognize any of them. The screen of her television set is smashed in and the living room is a complete mess. There are a variety of drug paraphernalia scattered across the coffee table and some of the trespassers are acting strange, erratic and aggressive. The trespassers are all wearing baggy pants, and jackets or hoodies. One of them has a gun visibly tucked into the back of his pants and there is a second gun on the coffee table with the drugs. The homeowner tells them all to leave. One of the trespassers says, "Grandma, get out of here now before we decide to add you to this party." Another one pulls the gun from his pants and says, "If you don't leave I'm going to shoot you in the face with this gun. The homeowner retreats to the hall closet and gets her shotgun. She returns and tells the four to get out of her house now. One of the trespassers says, "@!#$* I'm going to kill you!" and reaches for the gun on the table. The trespasser with the gun in his hand points it at the homeowner. She fires repeatedly and kills all four of them.In one of these scenarios the homeowner will be treated like a hero. In the other one, the homeowner will be going to jail. I will assume that you can figure out which is which.Of course in the real scenario, nobody was hurt or shot, which definitely changes things and makes it all a bit grayer.The question then is, if we make a spectrum with scenario 1 on one side and scenario 2 on the other side, where does your friend's situation fall?The point is that without ALL of the info, we just cannot say.(And that is all of the ACTUAL information and not just what your friend told you when he was trying to impress you with his tale.)