Residents have the right to defend themselves in the event of a home invasion, local authorities say, but stressed the need to know the criteria behind those rights.

According to California Penal Code 198.5, a person that uses force intended or likely to cause death or significant injury against a person who unlawfully entered their home can be presumed to have “a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or injury to self, family, or a member of the household.”

In other words, if a resident is a victim of a home invasion and uses force against the suspect, the use of force can often be found justified.

“What it comes down to is the victim’s level of fear,” Victorville Sheriff’s station spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez said. “If someone does break into your home, you have a right to protect or defend yourself and your family, if you are in fear that you or your family will be injured or killed.”

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Specialized Investigations Lieutenant Don Lupear reiterated the statement, and said the use of force also has to be considered reasonable.

“There has to be an imminent threat,” Lupear said. “If you believe you are in imminent danger, such as in the case of a home invasion, use of force can be considered reasonable. It can’t just be some off-the-wall reason. For instance, if you come downstairs and the person runs away and runs down the street, there will be some issues if you run down the street and shoot them. You have the right to chase them, but the imminent threat is gone.”

Lupear stressed the need behind having a “reasonable belief that you will be killed or injured.”

“There are strict self-defense laws,” Lupear said. “The amount of force used against the suspect really depends on what the situation is. You can’t just shoot someone out of anger; it’s got to be reasonable — you had to use force to prevent the injury from happening.”


Lupear said home invasions and shootings, like the one that occurred Wednesday when an off-duty officer shot a robbery suspect in his home in Apple Valley, are considered to be rare. He also spoke to the Daily Press about the investigative process that occurs after a homeowner shoots a suspect during a home invasion.


Contact the Sheriff’s Department for more information on self-defense laws.

Source: Paola Baker,