"In Texas, 'he needed killing' is still a valid defense..."

The Colorado Homeowner Protection Act

In 1985, after much public debate, the Colorado state legislature passed a law originally known as the "Homeowner Protection Act." Western panache gleefully stole an opponent's label and renamed the Act the "Make My Day" law, the name by which Colorado courts now refer to it.

Colorado statute 18-1-704.5 (emphasis added):
  1. The general assembly hereby recognizes that the citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes.
     
  2. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1-704, any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.
     
  3. Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from criminal prosecution for the use of such force.
     
  4. Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from any civil liability for injuries or death resulting from the use of such force.
In plain English? If some guy breaks into your house, and you think he intends to commit a crime in addition to breaking and entering, and you think he might attack you or yours, then it's okay to kill him.


The "Make My Day" (MMD) law extends existing self-defense law in two ways:

  1. It provides an actual exemption from all legal liability, not just an affirmative defense against criminal charges. Normally, the initial burden of proof is on the defender, who must present a plausible argument for self-defense, after which the burden falls upon a prosecutor to disprove the argument beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the MMD provisions, the entire burden of proof is upon the prosecutor.

    Since the alleged defense occured in a home and the conditions required by the law are not stringent, a conviction is highly unlikely.
     
  2. The force used need not be proportional to the perceived threat. Normally, you can't, say, shoot someone for simply warning you to stay out of his way; under the MMD law, any indication of a threat is sufficient cause for a lethal response.
     
Proponents of the law claim that it protects homeowners from having their actions in a dangerous situation second-guessed by a prosecutor; "a single woman cannot possibly hope to divine the intentions of an intruder." [2] Opponents argue that it gives citizens a license to kill without any moral justification.

Sources:
1. Colorado Criminal Defense Bar - http://www.ccdb.org/furman1.htm
2. Colorado Freedom Report - http://www.co-freedom.com/2003/04/makemyday.html

Catbox: "in10se decides to quit moonlighting as a cat burgler in Colorodo."

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