If a man has threatened me and my family with a gun multiple times and shows up on my property with a loded fire arm is that considered probable cause to shoot him in self defense in wv?

A man has sexually assaulted a family
member of mine and has threatened if we
go to the police to kill us and
considering 2 of his best friends are
officers of the county it makes filing
a report seem scary since it’s a very
small town. So if he shows up with a
loaded fire arm on my property am I
justified to shoot first or do I have
to wait to be shot once for it to be
legal to use deadly force back as in

Asked on May 6, 2017 under Criminal Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends what you mean by "show up with a loaded gun": if he has a gun and he is holding it while talking to you, brandishing it at you, pointing it even generally in your or a family member's direction, etc., you can shoot first: the threat is imminent and reasonable (i.e. anyone would reasonably perceive it) and in that situation, you do not have to give him the first shot.
If he does not have a gun in hand or visible, but just tells you that he has one, or you see one in his car (e.g. on a gun rack), you can't shoot him: without the gun ready to hand, then the threat is not immediate or imminent and you can retreat and call the police rather than using deadly force.

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