What constitutes the right to legally protect your property?

UPDATED: Nov 14, 2011

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What constitutes the right to legally protect your property?

An adult claimed that he was protecting his home and family and ran after kids that were on the street in front of his house. He beat one of the kids in the face (a 14 year old) causing bodily injury and his front tooth to break off. Can he use self defense saying he thought the kids were adults (kids ages were 10, 13 13, 14 and 16) and he pursued them? The kids ran when the man came out of his house with a flash light yelling at them. Also, he had come out earlier with his flashlight and yelled, “I am tired of you American kids” and had chased them to their garage with his flash light. He was not arrested because he said he thought they were adults and he did not mean to hit the “man”; he was trying to grab him. However, he grabbed my son, threw him into our fence and then picked him up and threw him against the wall of our house. He hit him in the face 2 times with the flash light and yelled at my son, “Big highschooler, next time pick on someone your own size”.

Asked on November 14, 2011 under Criminal Law, Indiana


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A person has the right to use reasonable force to protect his or her property from damage or theft. The amount of reasonable force depends upon the circumstances of each situation.

From what you have described, the force that the adult that you write about with respect to the minors who were in front of his home on a public street seems excessive. I suggest that you and your son consult with a personal injury attorney about the situation. Whether the adult thought that your son and others were adults does not matter. The force used seems excessive.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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