Defending A Neighbor: What Are Your Rights?

LEWISVILLE, NC - The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office says a man shot and killed an intruder who broke into his neighbor's house over the weekend in Lewisville.

Deputies have identified the suspect who was fatally shot as Horace Wayne Vanlue, Jr., 23, of Winston-Salem.

Deputies say he was one of several men who tried to break into a house on Grainland Drive and assaulted someone who lives there.  That's when a neighbor heard what was happening and shot at the men, fatally hitting Vanlue, Jr.
 
Deputies haven't said what happened to the other suspects. At this time no charges have been filed. 
 
So 2WTK what are your rights when it comes to defending your neighbors home?
 
"If they're actually assaulting their neighbor, then yes, they could intervene but not because they're trying to protect their property, but because they're trying to defend that person's life against the death or serious bodily harm," explains Capt. Randy Shepherd with the Guilford County Sheriff's Office. 
 
To put this simply, you do not have the right to defend your neighbors home or your neighbors yard, but you do have the right to defend your neighbor if there's a threat. 
 
Capt. Shepherd says self defense laws in North Carolina allow for an individual to use deadly force in defense of themselves or a third person if they or the third person is in imminent threat of death, great bodily harm or sexual assault.
 
He says it can get tricky if you intervene without knowing the full story or knowing who instigated the fight or confrontation.
 
"If it ends up being a situation that's not what you thought it was you could be liable for an imperfect self defense." 
 
Instead, if you don't know what's going on, call for help.
 
"Be a good witness, call 911, step back, keep yourself safe, look listen and wait for law enforcement to get there."
 
To learn more about North Carolina's "Castle Doctrine" and defending your own home, click here. 

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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