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Our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC believe everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes. However, when someone tries to break in or if there is an intruder, do you have the right to defend yourself, your family, and your home? This is a good question and one we answer here. 

If you are in a situation where you are facing criminal charges and need assistance, our attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani are ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options and our services. 

Keep reading to learn more about the “Make My Day” Law, how it can protect you, and all the details you need to understand. 

Colorado Stands Against Intruders 

The state of Colorado believes that homeowners have the right to feel safe in their homes and protect their property and family if threatened. The “Make My Day Law” grants homeowners immunity if they respond accordingly when threatened by a home invasion and burglary. In some situations, this law may be the only thing that prevents you from going to jail. 

The “Make My Day” law in Colorado was established in 1985. Under this law, homeowners have immunity from any prosecution if they shoot or kill someone breaking into their home if certain conditions are present. 

According to the law, the dwelling’s occupant is considered justified to use any level of physical force, even deadly physical force, against someone who has entered their dwelling unlawfully if the following circumstances apply:

  • The homeowner believes the intruder will, has, or is committing a crime and entering unlawfully. 
  • The homeowner believes the intruder could use physical force against someone in the house. 

Duty of Retreat in Colorado 

According to the Duty of Retreat doctrine, you can only use deadly force as a last resort. Even in cases of self-defense, if you can avoid the risk of death or harm by taking some other action, by running away, this is what you should do. While this is true, there was a ruling that stated you are not bound to run away or retreat before using deadly force if it is reasonable based on your circumstances. 

Unarmed Intruders 

If an intruder is unarmed, the law still applies. It does not matter if the person who comes into your dwelling uninvited has a gun or another weapon or not. If you think they will commit a crime against you, someone in your house, or your property, and you believe they could cause bodily harm, you have the right to protect yourself using any means. You have immunity in these situations from being prosecuted. 

This means that you can use a sword, baseball bat, shotgun, pistol, knife, or any other item you have to help defend yourself. 

Remember, though; not all states grant residents this right. If you travel outside of Colorado, be sure you know your rights when it comes to using deadly force against an intruder. 

Can You Kill Someone in Self-Defense Outside of Your Home?

The Colorado law allows those not in their home to kill someone in cases of self-defense or to defend others if they believe non-deadly force will not be adequate to stop the threat. Also, one of the following elements must exist in the situation: 

  • The victim believes that they or someone else is in imminent damage of a serious injury or death.
  • The person uses physical force against an occupant while they commit or try to commit a burglary. 
  • The person is committing or appears to be committing a sexual assault, robbery, or kidnapping. 

If these conditions are not present, then you can only use force that is “reasonably necessary” to fight away an aggressor. 

Important Stipulations to Colorado’s “Make My Day” Law

A common misconception about the self-defense law in Colorado, and the “Make My Day” law specifically, is that you have the right to shoot anyone who comes onto your property without getting in trouble. This is not the case. 

Using any amount of force against someone isn’t something that’s taken lightly, nor does the law justify killing another person without justification to do so. Hurting someone else or taking their life is a burden, no matter the justification. That’s why it is best to avoid this outcome when possible. 

For example, if someone comes on your property to steal something out of your vehicle or if they vandalize your property, you don’t have the right to shoot them or use other deadly force. For the situation to be considered legal to shoot someone based on this law, the intruder must be inside your home, and you should suspect that they have or will commit some type of crime and that they will harm you or someone else in your home. 

For the “Make My Day” law to apply to your situation, an intruder must be in your dwelling with you and be uninvited. Also, the intruder must be committing a crime along with being inside your home uninvited. 

An example of when the law would apply is if an intruder was threatening your spouse or child. In this case, you can reasonably assume the intruder is going to use force, even if it is slight, against someone in your dwelling. This even applies to situations where the intruder threatened someone with a weapon or just their fist. 

The entire point of the law is to ensure you can defend yourself when in your home without the risk of being prosecuted. However, it isn’t a blanket right to shoot someone who comes on your property. If there’s someone on your property illegally, but they aren’t inside your home, the immunity offered by the “Make My Day” law doesn’t apply to the situation. In this case, you will be held to Colorado’s self-defense law. 

Even if you are inside your home, you don’t have the right to shoot someone who has broken in and actively stolen something if they are not threatening someone in the dwelling with physical harm. 

If you are in public, the laws are unique. This means that the law doesn’t apply in all situations. While you can defend yourself in public, the situation is regulated based on laws other than the “Make My Day” law. 

While Colorado doesn’t impose a duty to retreat, it’s best to avoid violence when you can. If violence happens, it means someone will likely get hurt. Someone else may get arrested and even charged with a criminal offense. When you avoid a possibly violent situation or de-escalate the situation, you are doing what is smart and minimizing the possibility that you will suffer an injury, that you or your loved one will be injured, or that you will be arrested. 

Understanding Your Rights Under Colorado’s Make My Day Law

Understanding your rights based on the “Make My Day” law is important. This will help you avoid using unreasonable force and being charged with a crime. If you are facing criminal charges, our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are ready to help. 

We have handled hundreds of criminal cases and will work to gather evidence to help you build a defense for your situation. Our goal is to help you reach the most agreeable outcome possible for your situation. 

Contact our legal team to discuss your criminal charges and ensure you know your rights and options. Being informed will help you handle any type of criminal charges. 

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