We have discussed self-defense a lot here, but not the use of force in defense of property.
In most jurisdictions, he use of RESAONABLE force is justified in defending property, but deadly force is not.
If someone snatches your cell phone and runs off with it, you are legally allowed to tackle him and take it back, but you can’t shoot him as he flees. That makes sense as you wouldn’t want to kill someone over a cell phone. But interactions with criminals are not predictable.
So, what happens if the thief, having been tackled, pulls a knife? It would seem at that point, regular self-defense rules applied, but do you have a duty to retreat?
In general, if you instigate a confrontation, you must disengage and retreat before using deadly force, but if you were not the aggressor, you need not retreat.
So, the question I have not been able to find a definitive answer for is who is the aggressor when you lay hands on a thief? In my mind, he was the aggressor when he took my phone, but some might see it differently, that using reasonable force to recover the stolen item is instigating the confrontation.
And what if it is someone else’s property? Are you the aggressor if you tackle someone who has snatched a little old lady’s purse?
I’m sure everyone has an opinion, but can anyone provide an answer?