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
    Jun 2 '20 at 6:36
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    Sidenote: Being legally right doesn't mean much if you die in the process. Stay safe! Jun 2 '20 at 22:57
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    I know nothing, but shouselaw.com/citizens-arrest claims that citizens arrests are legal in California. Jun 2 '20 at 22:58

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.


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
    Jun 2 '20 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
    Jun 2 '20 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
    Jun 2 '20 at 8:24

In my opinion, the first thing that anyone in this situation needs to do is assess their own personal beliefs and take realistic stock of what you are able and willing to do to defend yourself, others, and your property. Because that's the max of YOUR limits, which you have to absolutely live with regardless of the law, and possibly defend to the law. So you better be able to do it with conviction.

Oddly, few people actually go through this mental process ahead of time, which leaves you having to make a decision regarding your own moral beliefs in the heat of the moment. That really clouds judgement and can either lead to later regrets regardless of what you do.

Second, it is quite realistic given the events that I've seen unfolding, that virtually anyone in the area of such an attack can "reasonably" presume that a violent attack against themselves or their property is a threat to their life or physical health, or their property. If you have any doubts of that, YouTube footage of Reginald Denny. The man was not a threat to anyone and he was nearly murdered anyway. Also be sure to look at the Wiki page for him, and you'll see that not only is the law no protection, often it isn't even consolation.

On the good side, the law does NOT say that you my only apply a force commensurate with that being attempted against you [aka shoot only if being shot at first or that you can't defend yourself in whatever way you choose]. No, it's about what you as an untrained person can reasonably fear if you do not defend yourself.

What you can know for near certain is that you are on your own. As shown by all accounts in the 1992 riots, police often ran and they did not respond to people in crisis situations. Chances are they won't show up to defend you, but will show up to critique how you defended yourself. Therefore, this doesn't mean that you can go out of your way to play Rambo first strike shooting at people going by, but it does mean you can defend yourself in any way you choose if you are under attack. Just understand that you may also have to do it in court, so stay reasonable.

All that said, forget anything but ultimate defense. Personally, I don't sit well with the "no property is worth the loss of human life" as some have said. I've worked my whole life, which means I've given a fair share of it to building a business. Along comes some piece of human waste who only wants to burn it or loot it for fun? Not on my watch. His life isn't worth it.

All to say that I would have no issue defending myself and my property with a firearm or 2 or 3. No paintball, rubber bullets, or other non-lethal method. If I shoot, I mean it. I would certainly show it first because that's the best way to stop it before it begins. But my philosophy is you don't show it unless you are willing to fire it, and if you must fire, fire to kill. If a man is coming through my door with a hammer, he will be stopped before he makes it all the way through. Nothing in my business is worth dying for, but if someone disagrees with me, that decision is on him.

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    The cognitive dissonance in this post is astounding.
    – TylerH
    Jun 2 '20 at 18:57
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    This isn't a philosophy/opinion site. Please take the tour. Your answer is accumulating downvotes because it is peppered with personal opinion, and its legal claims are poorly asserted and offered with no authoritative support.
    – feetwet
    Jun 2 '20 at 19:54
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    This is a bad answer and just your personal opinion, but if you're really concerned about your property, you will already have an insurance policy on it. There's no legal advice or legal references in this answer anyway.
    – bitmaker
    Jun 4 '20 at 1:01

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