Should it be you going to jail when you shoot a burglar?

via Yahoo!

via Yahoo!


A 47-year-old man was remanded on bail when he appeared before a Justice of the Peace in the Kaitaia District Court today charged with wounding and using a firearm, both with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

An interim order suppressing the man’s name and occupation was granted, without opposition from the police.

The charges relate to an alleged attempt to steal a front-end loader from a property near Houhora, about 39km north of Kaitaia, on Wednesday night. An 18-year-old man was taken to Kaitaia Hospital where he was treated for pellet wounds and later transferred to Whangarei Hospital for treatment. His injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

Bail was granted to the defendant on the conditions that he live at a specified address, not contact named witnesses and not possess or use a firearm.

If burglars knew that you can take pot shots at them while they are on your property helping themselves to your stuff, there will be a lot fewer willing to take the risk.

I’m always left feeling the law isn’t very just when it becomes all about the dumb burglar getting hurt. ¬†Those are the risks of the job mate. ¬†Perhaps you should be paying top dollar in ACC levies.


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  • rantykiwi

    I think burglars are generally fair game for a dose of high-speed lead poisoning, especially if the shooter is being responsible and only using shotshells. Anything with much more range increases the risk of collateral damage a bit more than I feel happy with.

  • biscuit barrel

    I bet his lawyer will tell him to go for trial by jury, as they will likely not convict

    • biscuit barrel

      What Ive never understood is that you will be charged if you shoot a burglar and your life is not in imminent danger, but when the cops shoot a fleeing person( has happened), they dont get charged.

      • Damon Mudgway

        Without getting too involved in the cop ananolgy, NZ law gives police the power to arrest an offender using a firearm if there are no other reasonable means to effect the arrest. Police can also shoot an offender if they believe on reasonable grounds that person is likely to cause GBH or death to another, and once again there is no less reasonable force available to effect that purpose. Quite simply if Police had to shoot an offender in the back to prevent that offender from harming others, then tough luck for the idiot who caused the cop to pull the trigger.

        • Ghost

          Is this the law of self defense or defense of another that covers everyone or do they have specific regulations? Just asking as I always thought it was common law and would be surprised / resigned if they have special indemnity.

          • Damon Mudgway

            You are correct. Outside of the Crimes Act there are also provisions for officers in the Police Act. As with any person, officers must also be able demonstrate in law the reason for using such force. If they can’t they would most certainly be charged with any excess used.

      • Skydog

        Could you please provide an example to back up your claim that police have shot a person who was fleeing?

        • biscuit barrel

          Many years ago (say late 80s or early 90s) , in far north, a woman officer was processing a drink driver who ran off, she shot and wounded him.
          Much more common in US, just the other day in California a driver was ‘accidentially shot’ by a police office, no charges

      • Nermal

        While I sympathise with those who say a homeowner should be able to shoot any intruder, sadly that’s likely to lead to innocent family or visitors being killed by accident. It’s easy to say check first, but experience in the USA tends to indicate many of these situations involve stressed situations.

        Pity people don’t come with IFF.

    • rantykiwi

      After a recent case involving a family member facing deserved in law (but ridiculous under the circumstances) charges I think the Kaitaia DC has some pretty realistic police prosecutors and judges in residence. I’ll be surprised if either the charges aren’t dropped, or the shooter discharged without conviction.

    • Brian Smaller

      The problem for most people though is that by the time you get to a jury deciding you wont be convicted, the whole process has broken you financially and you have been bankrupted. You are innocent, free and broke.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Bit of a PC poll. Where is the “YES” option?

  • BR

    A homeowner who catches someone on his property committing a crime should have the right to shoot the criminal dead on the sopt.


  • STAG


    I should be able to shoot at anyone stealing from my property, the same way I’d shoot a dog worrying the stock. Both are stray animals and a scourge on society.

  • Nyla

    if you have a loaded gun handy in case of a burglar, or even unloaded, then youre breaking the law … guns must be locked up … no you cant shoot anyone, but you can find your golf club lying around but around burglars arms or lower is defence

    • rantykiwi

      A handsaw is one of the most effective anti-burglar tools – inflcics lots of damage, hard to wrestle off you as it has a decent handle, and quite hard to prove that you had it for any purpose other than cutting wood.

      • Legallysane

        A powder type fire extinguisher is another option. A face full of that stuff should be enough to gain the upper hand.

        • Skydog

          We have oven cleaner near the bed. A spray of Mr Muscle in the eyes will make Police spray feel like holy water.

          • Miss McGerkinshaw

            Thanks for the tip.

        • FornaK

          I was thinking of swinging it and hitting them in the head

  • T Mardell

    It’s more complex when you think of circumstances that confuse the situation.

    Imagine someone who is ‘confused’ about there they are (could be intoxicated, of simple mind, or with dementia) and wander on to your property. Or even someone coming on to ask directions, car broken down etc. They are not a burglar, and certainly not threatening you.

    To just be able to shoot and potentially kill at will is a little harsh – not even Courts can do that. And to be able to say, ‘well I thought he was a burglar” would have to be a defence against a murder charge.

    I remember hearing a senior Police Officer once saying that if you or your family are at risk of your lives, then it is a valid defence to shoot. But if, for instance, the offending party is departing the scene, you cannot. ie you cannot shoot them in the back, even though they have your property and are driving off with it. Effectively we do not have capital punishment.

    Now you may have to go to Court to defend your actions, based on your view of the situation, and what you saw and did, but that’s a valid way of maintaining societal order, otherwise we could have a wild west.

    Having discussed this scenario with friends over the years, I’ve detected the same view amongst everyone. That is, if you are confronted with an intruder in your home, you do whatever is necessary to protect your family, and deal with the consequences afterwards.

    Personally I’d live easier regretting shooting an intruder, than regretting not, and having a family member hurt, raped, or killed as a result.

  • Isherman

    Its a circumstantial issue. I can think of plenty of scenarios where it should be acceptable…both barrels even, but lets say the intruder is a lone unarmed 14 yr old opportunist from around the corner, who is in the habit of nicking stuff but has never been known to be violent or dangerous….do you still pull the trigger? Probably not, so it all depends on the circumstances.

    • Brian Smaller

      Tell that to my Dad’s neighbour a few houses down the road at Papamoa who was knifed to death with a knife picked up from the kitchen by a teenage burglar. Awoke to find the guy in his bedroom where he and wife were sleeping. Leapt to his feet and was stabbed to death.

      Sorry, you can’t tell that to him – he was murdered at the hands of a 15 year old opportunist.

      • Isherman

        Hard to argue against that example. Once they pick up any sort of weapon, then the game changes and it should be fair game, because they have effectively turned it from a burglary into a home invasion, and as your case illustrates, the threat becomes very real and at that point the law should fall on the victims side. Hope he went away for a decent stretch, though some of the sentences these types get are an absolute joke.

    • Annie218

      If I had a gun (I don’t) I probably would take a shot but would be aiming for his feet, rather than higher up. A 14 y.o these days is very capable of killing. Those ‘girls’ the other night were more than capable of causing severe injuries.

      • Old Dig

        Aiming at anything other than the centre of mass is not a good idea, you have more chance of missing and injuring or killing someone other than your target, this is why police and soldiers are taught to shoot to kill. That is why you should only fire at someone when it is absolutely your ONLY option.

        • Ghost

          Center mass untill they stop, then its up to ballistics, medical intervention or a higher power as to the final outcome. And yes, pulling the trigger is taken only at a final option.

      • Isherman

        Or stick a round into his (or her) posterior…let them enjoy sitting on that for a while.

  • JohnO

    Anyone should be able to shoot a burglar caught in the act with out fear of the law as long as they do not kill them. So it is a dangerous thing to do for both parties.

  • Ghost

    Trickey question as you legally arent allowed to have a firearm for the purpose of self defense however, if conducting pest removal from your property, you were confronted by someone who then threatened your life, you could use what force you deemed required to prevent that.

    The holes would have to be in the front of the person though, and the police prossecuters would probably still want to run you through the court system, unless you could plead public interest or a lack of malice in commiting the act.

    • Old Dig

      Taken straight from the arms code (sorry for poor quality image, I have a cheap phone)

    • Metricman

      Unless it is a transgender Maori Muslim in which case you have no show.

  • edenman

    Many years ago after we had been burgled a police officer came to see us as a followup. We said that if we had been home he might not be still around as he would probably stopped a piece of lead. The officer smiled and said make sure you fire a second shot into the ceiling and claim it was a warning shot. Good advice.

  • Greg M

    Better to be judged by 12 of your peers than to be carried out by 6. Shoot the bludger dead on the spot.

  • Eiselmann

    Went with other, as my opinion about burglers might be considered…er , extreme.

    But in the interests of what you could reasonably expect to be able to do with our soft laws and even softer judges, I’d certainly support the right to shot burglers if they are a threat to life or caught with your stuff.

    I would say that if I could make the law around the treatment of burglers there wouldn’t be a lot of repeat offenders.

    • FornaK

      Just be careful if you’re going to shoot them when they’re carrying your property, as they may drop it and damage it!!!

  • Mark156

    depends on the circumstances
    What was the alleged burglar doing at the time he was shot?Coming at the shooter with a clear intent on causing harm to him?
    if not then its gbh

    • rantykiwi

      I feel that once you’re on someone else’s property commiting a crime your rights to protection have pretty much evaporated.

      • Mark156

        No.This isn’t the wild west.

        • Mark

          Yeah,because the system we have now is working so well.

  • Old Dig

    If someone is illegally on your property then the chances are they intend to do harm to you or your family. I am not willing to take that chance, self defence is a human right that no government can take away, it is the most basic human right. In saying that though, you or somebody else must be in immediate danger to justify use of lethal force, it makes no difference if your weapon is a firearm, a cricket bat, or a rubber chicken.

  • Clutch Cargo

    Sorry, unable to do this quizz. You have omitted the most appropriate option of “Yes”

    • Superman

      My thought exactly. Yes always.

    • WaveAtTheBridge

      Yep without the yes answer there is no value to the quizz

  • Metricman

    When the Police can’t or won’t protect the people, then you know what happens next.