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Make My Day: The Colorado Experiment in Home Protection

NCJ Number
Prosecutor Volume: 21 Issue: 3 Dated: (Winter 1988) Pages: 5-10
W Wilbanks
Date Published
6 pages
This article examines the pros and cons of Colorado's 1985 law, nicknamed the Make My Day law, which gives greater protection to the occupant of a dwelling who uses deadly force against an intruder.
After outlining provisions of the Make My Day law, the author summarizes four cases to illustrate the issues involved. The legislature intended to protect the law-abiding homeowner who was confronted in the middle of the night by a stranger/intruder. These cases, however, show that the law has provided defense attorneys with another avenue by which they can 'get off' their clients for assault or homicide if the offense was committed in a dwelling. The Make My Day law is part of a more general attitude that allows the pre-emptive strike by 'good guys' against 'bad guys.' One alternative is tightening the law's language to eliminate protection being used in neighborhood disputes and love triangles. Second, traditional self-defense laws could include the provision that in the case of homeowners using deadly force to protect themselves in their home, the presumption is that the homeowner acted reasonably. The State also could create the law of excessive self-defense so that homeowners who act unreasonably are held responsible for manslaughter. Finally, some States disallow self-defense where the defendant is responsible for creating the conditions of his own defense. 9 references.


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