Currently, there is looting being done in Los Angeles by many people who are pretending to protest against the killing of George Floyd (some others are actually protesting and a few people are helping to stop looters).

If someone were to loot my property (business) would I be within my rights to deter them by shooting at them with a paintball gun and / or using a long-leashed German Shepard near the door?

Also to potentially citizen arrest with zip-ties? (if feasible)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 6:36
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    Sidenote: Being legally right doesn't mean much if you die in the process. Stay safe! Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 22:57
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    I know nothing, but shouselaw.com/citizens-arrest claims that citizens arrests are legal in California. Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 22:58

3 Answers 3


If you are arrested for assault, you have available to you the defense of the right to defend real or personal property: you "may use reasonable force to protect that property from imminent harm. Reasonable force means the amount of force that a reasonable person in the same situation would believe is necessary to protect the property from imminent harm". The level of force proposed is clearly within the boundaries of the reasonable.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 6:36
  • 2
    See reasonable person principle for information on what that constitutes in a legal context.
    – TylerH
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 18:48

Legally, yes.

Under Penal Code 198.5, California follows the Castle doctrine, meaning there is no duty to retreat if a resident confronts an intruder inside the home. Residents are permitted to use force against intruders who break into their homes, or try to force their way in.

A legal presumption means the prosecutor in a case must prove that the resident did not have a reasonable fear of imminent death or injury when he or she used force against the intruder. It basically gives the benefit of the doubt in such cases to the resident.

(source: Shouse California Law Group)

Although you have asked on Law SE, legal is not going to help you if you lose your life by enraging a looting mob coming down on your property shooting paintball gun at them. Also be mindful of looters/mob armed with bricks and rocks and having these chucked at you.

Do some searches for the term "Castle Doctrine".

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    Note that this answer is largely invalidated by the edit OP made afterward; OP clarified they're talking about their business, not their home. Therefore the Castle doctrine would likely not apply (unless of course OP lives at their place of business).
    – TylerH
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 18:51

This is not a law answer but it feels wrong to make it just a comment.

Don't do this.

I know quite a few criminals. My dad is in jail for 25+ years. My brothers, uncles, and cousins have rap sheets (arrest records). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) know of me. The best way to minimize damage and harm is to not escalate. If someone tries to steal your wallet or break your window or bust up your car, punching them or shooting them with a paintball gun will make them want to stab, rape, and/or beat you. The only time force is a reasonable solution is if you are prepared to do as much or more force than they are to you after you anger them. Basically, intimidation.

A lot of big cases in the USA follow this trend. One offence will be faced with an escalation. Followed by escalation. Followed by escalation. Legally, it's justifiable but morally, the end result turns quite bleak.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 6:39
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    Activity by people with peacetime criminal experience is not the same as looting. I'm not saying your suggestion is wrong - maybe it is and maybe it isn't - but I believe you're thinking about the wrong people.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 8:24

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