ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As package thefts are on the rise in Illinois, especially around the holidays, homeowners are scrambling to protect themselves.
Some Illinois residents are even getting locked an loaded and are ready to use deadly force if these specialized thieves decide to strike.
But, is it legal to shoot a porch thief in Illinois? Here’s what you need to know.
Illinois residents do have a right to use deadly force in their homes in certain circumstances. However, the Land of Lincoln is not one of 38 U.S. states that has a “Stand Your Ground” law.
In Illinois there is the “Justifiable Use of Force” law, or 750 ILCS 5/7, but it does not include a provision to shoot someone who steals something from your porch.
When it comes to using deadly force against a porch pirate, porch bandit, or whatever we call someone who steals packages from doorsteps, it’s important know that doing so could land a homeowner behind bars.
The Illinois Justifiable Use of Force Law pays particular attention to the uses of reasonable force, deadly force, self-defense, defense of others, and defense of one’s property. But it’s not universal.
As the pertains to self-defense and defense of others, one is permitted to fight back with an equal amount of force if you believe you or another person is about to be attacked, even in public.
That means if someone comes at you with a knife, you can strike back with a knife, club, heavy object—anything that’s available to you to defend yourself, according to Jack L. Zaremba, a criminal defense attorney in Joliet, Illinois.
If you or another person is in imminent danger or great bodily harm at the hands of another, like in a case of a forcible felony like rape or murder, using a gun to stop the commission of that crime would be permitted under the state’s Justifiable Use of Force law.
The section of the Justifiable Use of Force statute that covers how you may protect yourself inside your home is very clear: If someone is attempting to break into your dwelling, you may use reasonable force to stop the intruder. The law further states that you may use deadly force if the the break-in is considered “violent.” This would include discharging a firearm to stop the threat.
“Perhaps involving multiple trespassers, and you reasonably believe that the trespasser(s) will physically attack you or another person in the home,” Zaremba’s firm says, “you can use deadly force if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony in the home.”
The law, however, does not specify whether the felony you would be attempting to prevent in the home would need to be a “forcible” one.
Deadly force, according to Illinois law, is force that is intended to cause great bodily harm or death. If you point a gun at someone who is breaking into your home and fire and miss, it would still be considered deadly force. A warning shot fired strait up in the air or clearly away from an intruder would not.
That said, while it is legal in certain circumstances to shoot someone on your property or inside your home, firing at someone who is stealing packages from your porch in Illinois is unlawful.
Shooting a porch pirate could result in an array of offenses such as aggravated discharge of a firearm, aggravated battery with a firearm, reckless discharge, even murder, if someone is killed.