Encounter on property

Discussion in 'GA Laws and Politics' started by jmorin, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. jmorin

    jmorin New Member

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    I wasn't 10 min. from home this morning, on my way to work, when my wife called me upset. Apparently some guy off the street was in our yard, looking around. He then walked around the house to the back yard, stood on our porch outside the kitchen, and left. Keep in mind we have a TINY yard which means he was right next to the house.

    She called 911 and described the man and the direction he went when he left the house.

    Living near downtown Atlanta we have frequent "street walkers"...shady characters looking for opportunities. Bums, drug users, whatever. Several cars have been broken into on the street and things taken from yards.

    Question:
    If I had encountered this guy in my yard as I was leaving for work, I may have pulled my weapon (I carry in my waistband when I walk to my car on the street in the morning) and ordered him to the gound. I then would have yelled at my wife to dial 911.

    How would have the police reacted and would I have the right to do that?
     
  2. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Based solely on the facts you stated, I can't tell that the person broke any laws. Ordering him to the ground at gun point and holding him there until the police arrive, when he has not broken any laws, could net you a whole heap of civil and criminal problems.
     

  3. jmorin

    jmorin New Member

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    What about trespassing?
     
  4. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    It's not criminal trespassing unless the person entered your property for an unlawful purpose (the facts you state don't really give you anything on which you could reach that conclusion), or after receiving notice from you not to enter, or if he remains after receiving notice from you to leave.
     
  5. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Good points, GGO.

    And, I should add that there are several innocent scenarios. The guy could have been a meter reader, a surveyor, a utility line marker, a utility employee, or someone looking for directions or help.
     
  6. jmorin

    jmorin New Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I guess I didn't make it clear. These people are street bums and drug users. You can't mistake them for a meter man, delivery guy, or anything else. If anyone has spent anytime living near downtown Atlanta, they'd understand what I'm talking about.

    What's crazy is I just followed another guy who I caught stealing my newspaper this morning. I won't go into that one...

    But I did go to the local police precinct and filed a complaint about the last guy. I asked the officer directly what I could do if I found them in my yard. She wasn't clear with me, but basically I could detain them I caught them stealing something (which is what they're doing...). She told me they've had people in the neighborhood physically restrain trespassers. I asked her if they could be charged with criminal trespass and she said yes.

    I told my wife we had better move soon. Otherwise the next guy I catch in my yard is going to be in a world of trouble.
     
  7. johnpeace

    johnpeace New Member

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    Pointing a gun at someone is aggravated assault.

    That's a felony...with a gun involved.

    Not something you want to do.

    If you ever do, it had better be because a life is in danger.
     
  8. GAGunOwner

    GAGunOwner Active Member

    This is for everyone, not just you.....

    .
     
  9. jmorin

    jmorin New Member

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    Geez, thanks for the support guys. :roll: Yes, I would never point my gun unless I truly felt my life was in danger.

    But imagine this scenario. You step out of your house and become startled when you encounter a crazy rummaging through your stuff. At that point I *would* feel threatened and my instinct is to protect myself and my family. I have no idea what this crazy would do to me. I would not want to or try to shoot him, but can I not make a citizen's arrest on my own property? Johnpeace, is that still aggravated assault if a I hold him at bay with my gun while calling 911? Remember, I'm on MY property, in MY castle. The guy is stealing MY property. There is no doubts about that. If I were not on my property, I wouldn't be thinking about this. I would call 911.

    GAGunOwner, I'm not joking about what I put on line. I'm posing real life situations and searching for some honest answers about what's within my rights. I understand people coverying their a** in this forum, but your responses are disappointing. I suppose I should contact a lawyer experienced in self-defense / gun cases and get his opinion.
     
  10. johnpeace

    johnpeace New Member

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    I'm not an attorney, so I'm probably wrong. I have some education and experience in private investigations and we covered a lot of this material.

    You might feel threatened, but that's not really the test that you have to pass. If it comes to you being charged for pointing your gun at someone, you have to be able to articulate how your life was in danger.

    I doubt you'd be able to convince a jury (if it came to that) that a bum rummaging through your garbage constitutes a mortal threat. Especially when there's an attorney portraying you as a gun nut mall ninja commando and the bum as a poor, underpriveleged, hungry guy just looking for some leftover takeout in your upper middle class garbage.

    The citizen's arrest thing is really a slippery slope. There's a lot of procedural work that makes an arrest legal and therefore admissable. Law enforcement officers receive a lot of training in the procedures. If you don't conduct the arrest according to specific procedures (which you won't without the proper training), it's not binding...the guy isn't prosecuted at best and sues you for false arrest, kidnapping, holding against his will, etc...and wins.

    In this case, the guy isn't even really doing anything illegal. He's in your yard...but that in itself isn't a crime. Once he starts taking trash out of your trash can, I guess he's committed a crime, but it'll still be a better idea to just convince him to leave than it is to try to make a citizen's arrest.

    Leave the gun holstered, but put your hand on it. Command the bum to leave your property. Call the police. Wait until there is an overtly threatening gesture to respond with any force. In my view, coming onto my property and refusing to leave and resisting my clear command to leave is threatening enough to justify pepper spray. Moving toward me, raising a hand and using profanity are all overtly threatening.

    Don't draw your gun unless you think you're going to have to shoot someone...and don't be in a hurry to do that, it should be a last resort.
     
  11. ls1ssdavid

    ls1ssdavid New Member

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    Ok with all this talk about being illegal to point a gun at someone unless justified. What about pointing the gun down at the ground. At the alert carry? So yes it's drawn out. No it's not pointing at someone. But it is quicker to aquire your target. And it will get your point across that you mean buisness. Would that be a possible option?
     
  12. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Fat Chance

    Fat chance on any State prosecutor reading anything you write here.
    It's possible, but what are the odds ???


    But it's a good idea NOT to make statements like "God help the next guy I catch on my property..." That suggests that you've already decided to use deadly force, without having been forced to make that choice when faced with a situation that made you genuinely in fear of your safety.

    I agree that normally pointing a gun AT someone is felony aggravated assault, and it cannot be justified by mere speculation that somebody might be a threat to your safety. Before you point at them or even in their direction, and before you make any verbal threats to shoot them (even if that threat comes at a time when your gun is still holstered or pointed down in front of your own feet), make sure you have enough information for any reasonable person in your shoes to consider them an imminent danger to you.

    If you're not sure if they're about to attack you or otherwise do something that would justifiably give you a green light to shoot 'em, and if you just want to interact with them to see what's up and why they're on your property and what they have to say for themselves, do it with your gun concealed or, if not concealed, held in a non-threatening manner.

    Hey, even if you come bursting out of your house with a double-barreled shotgun leveled at the trespasser and you threaten to fill him full of buckshot just for being there on your porch unannounced, it possible (likely?) for a rural Georgia jury to acquit you. But your goal should be to conduct yourself in such a way that you are never charged with a felony in the first place.
     
  13. RepeatDefender

    RepeatDefender New Member

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    Be careful when it comes to worrying about a guy in your trash can. IIRC, any item put into a trash can is tecnically "abandoned property", so legally it doesn't belong to you anymore. So you have no argument that a guy rummaging through your trash is stealing your property.
     
  14. USMC - Retired

    USMC - Retired Active Member

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    What makes something "trash" just because it is in one of those big plastic containers with a semi-airtight lid? I use a large outdoor "trash can" to keep my dog food in out by the kennel because it holds a large amount of food (sam's club sized bags) and it has a good weather proof seal so I can leave it where I need it. Someone else could just as easily use one of these "outdoor bins" to store charcoal, fertilizer, kids outdoors toys or anything else they want to keep outside but protected from the weather or just organized when not in use. Just because someone else may use the same container for refuse does not mean that MY items that I put in MY container are refuse. I believe that anything I have on MY property is mine no matter where on my property I leave it or in what kind of container. By saying that anything in your trash can is fair game to anyone on the street you are basically giving them license to go anywhere on your property that there is a "trash can" and rummage through it.
     
  15. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    I think you're both right. If USMCR were to put his dog food container out by the curb, he'd be hard pressed to complain that it ended up in a landfill. On the other hand, someone in my office with his nose in my trash can is going to have some 'splaining to do.

    And, USMCR, I keep several different kinds of wild bird food in a bin that probably looks a lot like your dog fod bin. I would not take kindly to someone helping himself to it.
     
  16. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

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    I believe there is a difference legal wise as to curb side trash can and next to the house trash can.

    Curb side being that you have given up possession of those items/including opened mail, to be disposed of.

    Close to the house means it is still yours and you have not decided its final use.

    Inside a dumpster behind a building is usually the same as curbside. It is waiting to be disposed of so someone can dumpster-dive and legally keep it.
     
  17. jmorin

    jmorin New Member

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    JohnPeace-

    The situation you described is what I would most likely do. My right hand would go on my gun (but remain holstered) and I hold up my left hand at the perpetrator, yelling at him to freeze. The trespasser would most likely take off and I would call 911.

    Most of the bums rummage through the trash when it's on the street. But if one these bottom feeders is in your yard (which has happened), he's looking for a lot more. Anything he can pick up and walk off with that has value.

    Most urban dwellers simply accept bums / ghetto rats / streetwalkers and know that on occasion they may go through their yard. They view them as harmless creatures. It's a real shame.