ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - When it comes to standing your ground, there is a lot of gray area for when you can and can't shoot someone.
"Widespread knowledge seems to be that if someone's in your house you can shoot them," said Retired APD Sergeant Damon Fay. "The reality is no, there needs to be a credible threat to do serious bodily harm."
The former police officer and current weapons instructor teaches a concealed-carry course.
"Somebody merely being in your house could have been drunk and simply trying to find their own house," Fay said.
Fay said if someone is in your house but they do not appear to be armed, you should announce that you are and that you've called police.
He said sometimes that may be enough to scare them off.
In addition Fay said there are certain times when you should not pull the trigger at all.
"Never shoot somebody for a misdemeanor, ever," he said. "No deadly force for misdemeanors.
"Secondly a fleeing nonviolent felon/ They're outbound; they're gone."
Elton John Richard missed that memo.
The ex-Marine caught a man breaking into his SUV in his driveway then chased him for blocks before shooting him in the back killing him.
Richard pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2006 but was set free after a public outcry.
Fay said if a person is still not sure when it's justifiable to shoot, think about what others would do.
"The law requires us to be reasonable," Fay continued. "Would a reasonable person in a similar circumstance say, 'Yes. I probably would have done that, too.'"
There is still uncertainty, though, because even if a burglar does not intend to do any physical harm, people cannot read minds so they may automatically assume the intruder is dangerous.
The retired sergeant said if they are not making a threatening move or showing a weapon and it doesn't seem reasonable, you could be charged.
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