When may you use lethal force against another human being?
While the specific wording differs slightly from state to state, the general guideline is that the threat must be legitimate and proximate, and presenting a risk of serious bodily injury or death.
For example, a man 100 yards away with a baseball bat screaming that he’s going to kill you may be serious, but he isn’t a proximate and legitimate threat at that distance.
Likewise, the same person just ten feet away, but on the other side of a 10′ fence topped with razor wire might be both a serious and proximate threat, but because of the fence keeping him away, you’d not have much success claiming that he was a legitimate threat.
Much in that same line of thought, someone merely trespassing on your property in coastal Virginia may be be proximate, but if he isn’t presenting a risk of serious injury, then you are going to go to jail when you shoot him:
A man allegedly trespassing on private property was shot by the homeowner Monday in Pungoteague.
The Accomack County Sheriff’s Office received a report regarding shots fired on Bobtown Road.
The shooting victim was transported by Melfa Volunteer Fire Department to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released.
Both individuals were arrested and charged in connection with the incident.
The trespasser, Louis Lilliston, was charged with trespassing and released.
Property owner Christopher Floyd was arrested on the charges of malicious wounding, reckless handling of a firearm, and the use of firearm in commission of a felony, and has been denied bail.
Merely encountering someone you didn’t expect to be there on your property outside of your home does not constitute a lethal force threat.
Christopher Floyd didn’t grasp that essential truth, and is now in the Accomack County Jail, where he will apparently remain until his trial.
Please make sure that you know the specifics of your state and local laws regarding armed self-defense.