Defending Your Property in Georgia: When Is Deadly Force is Justified?

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As a Georgia resident, you have the right to protect your property against others who trespass on your real property or criminally interfere with your personal property. However, that right is not without its’ restrictions and limitations under the law.

Defense of Property in Georgia…

In the state of Georgia, under O.C.G.A. §16-3-24,  a person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with real property other than a habitation or personal property:

(1) Lawfully in his possession;

(2) Lawfully in the possession of a member of his immediate family; or

(3) Belonging to a person whose property he has a legal duty to protect.

However, the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to prevent trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with real property other than a habitation or personal property is not justified unless the person using such force reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

What is O.C.G.A. §16-3-24 Really Saying?

Defense of property law in Georgia can be broken into two categories: (1) the use of nondeadly force; and, (2) the use of force. They key to understanding defense of property law in Georgia is simply understanding when you can and cannot use deadly force to protect your property.

A person can use nondeadly force in defending his or her property from theft, destruction, or trespass where the defendant reasonably believes that the property is in immediate danger. However, no greater force than what is necessary can be used. Specifically, when a request to cease would be sufficient. A person can also use nondeadly force when regaining possession of property that has been wrongfully taken from them upon “immediate pursuit” of the property.

What About the Use of Force in Defense of Your Home?

A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry into or attack upon a habitation; however, such person is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if:

(1) The entry is made or attempted in a violent and tumultuous manner and he or she reasonably believes that the entry is attempted or made for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the assault or offer of personal violence;

(2) That force is used against another person who is not a member of the family or household and who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using such force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred; or,

(3) The person using such force reasonably believes that the entry is made or attempted for the purpose of committing a felony therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony. O.C.G.A. §16-3-23.

Essentially, deadly force may never be used to merely defend a person’s property. Deadly force may, however, be used to protect a person’s home when he or she reasonably believes that another is intending to commit: a violent act against him or her or anyone else living in the home, a break-in and/or robbery of the home or a felony therein.

Contact Bixon Law…

Call us today if you are a defendant in a case, in which, you acted to protect your property. The force you used, whether nondeadly or deadly, may have been justified. If you call us today, we can evaluate the facts of your case and help you prove your innocence. Call Bixon Law at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation.


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