Homeowner Rights When Unwanted Person Enters Home - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Homeowner Rights When Unwanted Person Enters Home

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As more details arise from the deadly Little Falls, Minnesota shooting, you may ask yourself what you would do in the situation and what rights you have as a homeowner if someone would enter your home.

Homeowner Ensley "Tak" Windham says pulling the trigger would be the last option if someone would enter his home. "I would have to be backed into a corner," says Windham.

Teaching classes to license people to carry guns has heightened his awareness in different situations.

He says, "It goes further than I just have a gun. I can protect myself. You gotta think."

So what rights do you have as a homeowner if somebody were to enter your home? The answer is: it is a little complicated.

Clay County Attorney Brian Melton says, "Where it gets sticky in some of these things that you're seeing in Little Falls is how far you go, how concerned you were."

Melton says in Minnesota, you do have the right to defend yourself and your house but only in a reasonable manner. "Sometimes what is reasonable is going to depend on each case," says Melton.

It will depend the court's and sometimes a jury's view of how appropriate the force you used was.

Cass County State's Attorney Birch Burdick says in North Dakota, "Our self defense laws, our defense of property laws don't give you the authority to execute somebody simply because they're in your home."

Burdick says it comes down to how much force you use. He says, "The guiding principle here has to be, if you're going to use some measure of force, do not use more force than necessary."

Like Minnesota, reasonable force is sometimes a question for a jury in North Dakota. 

Burdick says there are a lot of times where a call to 911, especially in the Valley, will handle problems. For instance if a drunk person wandered into your home, you would typically not need to use deadly force.

But once again, it is best to never compromise your safety.

Windham knows what could happen to him if he uses too much force and knows he wants to avoid the situation at all costs. "You don't get to go back after pulling the trigger," he says.

That is why he tries to make sure both he and those that take his classes do not have to face that lesson.

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