Proposed legislation would justify deadly force - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Proposed legislation would justify deadly force

January 25, 2006

Albany- How far can you go to protect your family and home? A proposal in the state House would give you more leeway to use deadly force to defend yourself and your family. It's called House Bill 1061, "Georgia's Right to Self defense Act." It's patterned after similar legislation recently passed in Florida, but it may not do a whole lot more to add to the freedom you already have to defend yourself.

In November, Anne Mitchell held a burglar at gunpoint in her backyard until the police arrived. Recently, the family had another scare.

"About two and a half weeks ago, we had another perpetrator walk through our yard around 1:30 at night, and we let the dogs out, we didn't catch them," said Anne Mitchell, Homeowner.

Police did, they arrested three people on drug charges behind the Mitchell home. It's taught the family about protecting their home.

"I would always protect myself, no matter what, regardless of whether, protect myself and my family regardless of whether that law had been enacted, I don't know whether it gives us, I mean we have the right to protect ourselves," said Anne.

Citizens do, and new legislation aims to strengthen that by technically presuming that when any victim is confronted they may be in harms way.

"It does take further the issue of whether or not one has the duty to retreat and whether or not one feels like they're in imminent threat of danger because someone's in their home," said Ken Hodges, Albany Dougherty District Attorney.

"I think this new law will help people understand that they have the right to protect themselves in their home. It doesn't mean you can shoot someone that's stealing your bicycle," said Bill Mitchell, Homeowner.

"If somebody comes into your house and you shoot them, you won't be prosecuted, you can defend yourself with deadly force," said Hodges.

While the new state proposal helps, the Mitchell's believe locally more needs to be done.

"We are still shy a number of police officers that we have, that we need to operate functionally," said Anne.

The Mitchell's say until issues like that are resolved, they won't feel safe, even in their own home.

"We're trying to be alert to it and to keep an eye out and I'm not sure that we'll ever feel safe like we did before, but we'll do the best we can to keep safe from now on," said Bill.

Florida enacted similar legislation last year. Ken Hodges spoke with a Florida prosecutor who said there's really been no noticeable difference in Florida since the law was put in place.

The current proposal just had a second reading on the House floor Tuesday.

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