The “make my day” law isn’t quite what it sounds like. Nearly every state allows some form of “castle doctrine” that allows homeowners or renters to use deadly force against an intruder.
Other states, like Florida, have “stand your ground” laws that allow citizens to use deadly force when they are in fear of their own lives or the lives of others. Colorado’s “make my day” law isn’t nearly as permissive as Florida’s stand your ground law is. It is, in essence, a fanciful way of describing castle doctrine.
Make My Day Law in Colorado
The make my day law was established in 1985. Its central purpose is to allow homeowners and renters to defend themselves and their loved ones against an intruder. If the legal resident of a home or apartment shoots and kills an intruder, they, ostensibly, are free from being prosecuted for murder or other forms of homicide.
Of course, it isn’t as simple as that. The resident who used lethal force against an intruder must have some cause to believe that the intruder was going to harm someone in the house.
Other states have “duty to retreat” laws that prevent homeowners from using lethal violence unless they are left with no other choice. That is not the case in Colorado. Homeowners have no duty to retreat. If there is someone who is unlawfully in their residence, they can generally use lethal force.
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When Does the Colorado Make My Day Law Apply?
It’s better to ask the reverse of this question. When does the make my day law not apply? For instance, can you should someone who is being shady in your backyard? The answer is no. You can be charged with homicide for shooting a trespasser in your backyard. Colorado’s make my day law only applies to intruders who are within the walls of your home.
In addition, make my day laws do not apply to the armed use of force in public spaces. This is why the law is inappropriately named. When Clint Eastwood tells the diner robbers to go ahead and make his day, he is in a public place shooting people.
Thus, Clint Eastwood would not, in this instance, be able to invoke Colorado’s make my day defense in order to exculpate himself for the crime of homicide. He would, of course, have other defenses at his disposal. He would be able to claim defense of others as a defense to murder.
You Have a Right to Protect Your Home in Colorado
Intruders should beware, homeowners in Colorado can use lethal force against them. Furthermore, they cannot be charged with a crime for using lethal force against a home intruder.
If you have been charged with shooting someone on your property, Colorado’s make my day law may be able to exonerate you. In cases where the intruder was on your property but not in your home, you may be able to claim self-defense. The experienced defense attorneys at the office of Miller Leonard, P.C. can help. Contact us to set up an appointment.