It's important to understand self-defense laws before pulling th - FOX34 Lubbock

It's important to understand self-defense laws before pulling the trigger

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Over the last few months, property owners have had enough of thieves breaking into their cars. 

Residents have confronted the criminals and some have even taken lethal action. The legality of protecting your property can be a tricky issue, though.

Careful not to give legal advice or comment on any pending legal matters, attorney Jeff Nicholson said the use of lethal force should only occur in situations of last resort.

"It's real easy to be like, they'll come to my house and if you come on my property you're going to get shot or dog bit or that kind of thing but it's been my experience having worked on well over 35 homicides through the year that involving yourself in the killing of another person or the serious bodily injury of another person is not something you should take very lightly," Nicholson said. 

He said if you ever are in a situation where you must use force to defend yourself or a family member there are a few factors to determine legality.

"You have to have a reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary, that you have to have a right to be on that property, in that car, at work, on your own property or whatever, and you can't be breaking the law," Nicholson said.

If you are in your home, Assistant District Attorney Tom Brummett said the law is typically in your favor.

"If folks are in a place where they have a legal duty, excuse me, a legal right to be, that they generally have a right to defend or others regardless if retreat was possible," Brummett said.

When it comes to property outside your house like a car or a shed, it is a different story.

"If you have someone coming on your property and they have a Molotov cocktail or something like that and they're about to burn your house down that's one thing, but being in your house and seeing on a video camera you may have or some set up along those lines or just looking out the window or whatever well maybe in that instance you can call 911 or something unless that threat to that stuff is just so imminent that rises to that level," Nicholson said.

Both he and Brummett said you need to study the law for yourself so if you ever do find yourself in the situation, you will know how to act accordingly.

*****DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article should not serve as legal advice.*****

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