Best Strategy if You've Just Killed an Intruder

So you find a guy sneaking around your house in middle of the night, determine that he’s a threat to your life and/or your family’s and kill the guy. Now what?

ISTM that the two major choices are 1) to report it to the police, or 2) to put on some plastic gloves, put the guy in a big garbage bag or two, drive the guy to some isolated place and dump him off.

The big risk of the second option is that if you’re eventually linked to the guy you are going to have a much harder time persuading a jury that you killed him in self defense. But OTOH, you are going to be in big trouble if you report it, may have to spend a big chunk of your life savings on legal fees and live in great fear of jail - and you may actually go to jail, if the ball bounces the wrong way.

The thing is that a good percentage of these unsolved murders are where the police have no reason to link the murder and the victim. The ones where they have higher success rates are where there’s a known link. Because in the latter case, they set about checking out potential suspects, who they can then vet for alibis, DNA and similar. But where they have zero reason to suspect a particular person to begin with, it’s much tougher - they can’t check the entire world for alibis.

And the thing about intruders is that they have zero known connection to their intended victim (who they probably don’t even know) and deliberately attempt to conceal their presence at that location. So when the police find their body in the woods or dumpster, there’s little reason to suspect that the guy may have been robbing so-and-so’s house before being killed.

Of course, there can be complications. If you live in a densely populated area and made a lot of noise while killing the guy (e.g. you shot him) there are a probably a lot of people who suspect something is up. And so on. You really need to think it through carefully. (If you find car keys in his pocket, then the presence of his car in the neighborhood might tip off the police that he was last alive in that place - you could put him in the trunk of his own car and drive off, but then you need to get back home yourself. In that case it might make more sense to drive to a location close by to mass transit, rather than to a deserted area.)

Not sure of it, but I’m leaning a bit to the latter option, in the right situation.

If my life suddenly becomes so over-the-top messed-up that I have to kill an intruder in my home, I am not going to be optimistic enough to think that I could pull off the hiding-the-body scheme.

As some friends of mine who had had various run-ins with the law told me, “always be the first to call the cops.” If they arrive on the scene and you’re the one who called them, you’re the victim. If they have to come find you because there’s a body somewhere else, you’re a murderer.

How’d I kill him? If with my gun, that makes it a bit more problematic. I don’t really want to have to ditch my gun but I’d have to if I took option 2. I guess I’ll have to call the cops. In older versions of this scenario the homeowner was always advised to drag the body inside the house as it was ok to kill someone once they were inside. So I’d do that.

I live in a state with the castle doctrine, and other sensible laws concerning self defense, so I’d call the cops, expecting them to remove the body and probably compliment my marksmanship. We had a local shooting accident as described in the OP this summer. No charges were filed, as is appropriate under our law.

What you should be sure to have is a throw-down gun–a gun which can’t be traced to you but which you plant on the victim–being sure to have his fingerprints on it. Maybe fire a couple shots into the wall near where you were standing.

If any of you ever watched any dirty cop movies, you should have known about this.

Are you kidding? Assuming I have a justifiable defense, it isn’t even up for a second of hesitation: report it.

I think one has to be recklessly incompetent at running their own lives to risk decades in prison when they have done nothing wrong. You can’t even name an upside to the “hiding the body” option.

Um, assuming we’re taking the OP seriously…

Oak, or another of the Dope’s lawyers, could probably confirm this, but states have laws against you doing something like what the OP or kayT are suggesting. In Texas, I think (I am not a lawyer) that TX Penal Code section 37.09 would apply, among others:

A 2nd degree felony in Texas, FWIW, earns you 2-20 years in prison.

God, and a good defense attorney, only know how many other laws you’d be violating by tampering with evidence and moving bodies. Why set yourself up for a felony or two if you don’t have to? So don’t go dragging the body indoors, O.K.? Unless you need to in order to perform first aid on the guy.

I’ve posted this advice before from the self-defense legalities expert, Massad Ayoob, but what you should do, if you get involved in a self-defense situation, are the following five things:

Or, colloquially, this is the bad guy, s/he came at me with this weapon(s), these people saw it, the evidence is here, and I’ll give you my complete statement after I’ve talked to my attorney. Then shut up. Ethilrist’s relayed advice on being the first to get to the cops with your story is echoed by Ayoob.

As for moving the corpse out of your crib, you might want to read some of the accounts of what extremes people who clean up crime scenes have to go to in order to get all of the organic debris out of the residence.

I can envision a future where people’s DNA will be run through a database the way that the cops currently run people’s license plates at every traffic stop. Even if right now you might get away with it, there is a great chance that eventually you would be linked to the dead body.

Even that aside, though, I think the odds are very high that you are overestimating your own cleverness and underestimating how resourceful the cops can be in figuring out who has committed a crime. I’m sure a lot of the people in prison end up there because they thought they were smarter than the cops.

How to react after shooting an intruder in your home

Even if I lived in the sticks and had those fancy barrels and chemicals used on Breaking Bad I would call 911, report that “an intruder broke into my house and I had to shoot”. I would then only answer simple questions from the operator and not say a single word to the police until I talked with an attorney.

Sure, it may look suspicious but I watched what they tried to do with minor inconsistencies in the last self defense shooter’s trial.

If it was just me, I’d be calling 911 to save my own life, since killing an intruder would almost certainly involve significant defense wounds to me. Illinois is one of the 20-ish US states that has a castle doctrine law and no duty to retreat, so between that and the obvious damage caused to me, it shouldn’t present too much of a legal case against me.

OP, just to be clear: the intruder was in your house when shot, correct? To me “sneaking around your house” could mean in or just outside the house.

depends. was he inside your house? Do you know your state’s laws? does your state have some form of “Castle Doctrine” or does it mandate a “duty to retreat?” if the former, will you be able to explain why you believed him to be a threat to your life or the lives of your family? 'cos if you cap him while he’s trying to climb out of your window or running out the door with your Blu-Ray player, you’re gonna have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

option 1 may get you arrested/detained for questioning, and you most assuredly would want an attorney before you start answering questions. Option 2 is probably the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever read, because you’re almost guaranteeing you’ll be convicted.

so you’ve come to that conclusion based on a total lack of knowledge of what constitutes self-defense. If you’re “leaning to the latter option,” then I hope to god you never buy a firearm because you are woefully ill-informed. Real life isn’t Casino or Goodfellas.

Officer! I just surprised an intruder! He must have been so started that he shot himself in the face four times!

Well…except maybe for Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and Henry Hill.:smiley:

Call the police.

While I’m on the phone with them, unload my firearm, empty the chamber, lock the slide open, place it on the living room table.

Open the front door.

Advise the 911 operator of exactly what happened, the status of myself and the firearm.

Make sure the front porch light is on.

Sit on the front porch while still on the phone and wait.

I don’t own a firearm, but here in Arizona, we do have a strong Castle Doctrine or “Make My Day” law. It covers a person’s residence, business, and car, and one has no obligation to retreat in the face of an intruder. So, hypothetically, if I killed someone invading my home, I wouldn’t hesitate to call the police and give them my statement. The law would protect me as long I have reasonable grounds to take a life in self-defense or in defense of anyone else who is legally in my home.

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Things may have changed since my time there, but back in Texas I’d always heard to make sure the body was all the way inside your house. If it was lying even half out the door, you could be in for some legal trouble. All the way inside and you’re in the clear, so drag it in if you have to.

A few years back my neighbor shot and killed a seventeen year old boy who had broken into his house. The police didn’t arrest my neighbor and he was never charged with a crime. So I think it’d be within my best interest to call the police rather than attempt to hide the body.

Unless I somehow woke up in the ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ universe, I’m calling the cops.

Being that I live in Texas, I’d probably get my face put on the news for one of their fluff pieces and given some sort of reward.