We all know that real life is less than perfect, and at this point, pretty much everyone is familiar with the scene of the cranky old man telling people, “Get off my lawn!” It’s a cliché, it’s a meme, it’s a Clint Eastwood movie.
Whether they mean to or not, the people cutting through the property owner’s yard are violating his rights. But what can the fussy retiree do, besides holler at the trespassers?
The Risk of Taking Matters into Your Own Hands
It’s not uncommon for a fed-up homeowner to try to take matters into their own hands, and this is always a risky move.
Let’s say you have a perfect lawn, and there are a handful of neighborhood kids who insist on cutting through your yard on their bikes. You’ve asked them to stop, and you’ve tried to track down their parents—without success. What can you do?
One thing you should never do is set booby traps in your yard. If, for example, you lay out a piece of wood in your grass with exposed nails—that’s a booby trap. It’s also an example of criminal recklessness, which starts as a Class B misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
What If Someone Is Injured?
If you’re intentionally using nails in your booby trap, that can easily be charged as a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If someone is actually injured—even a mischievous youngster—the consequences can be much more severe. If someone’s hurt, you could be charged with aggravated battery, which starts as a Level 3 felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If someone dies as the result of your booby trap, you could be facing charges ranging from reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter (up to six years in prison), to Level 1 felony aggravated battery (up to 40 years in prison), or possibly even murder. No one wants to end up in this position.
Assume That Hurting Kids Is Wrong
When it comes to defending yourself or your property, the force used must be reasonable. So what about reasonable booby traps? The short answer is, Good luck explaining to a judge or jury how “reasonable” it was that your booby trap injured a child.
Thankfully, using sharp objects to try and deter trespassers isn’t your only option. Technology is advancing every day, and pretty much everyone has a camera with them at all times. If you aren’t able to catch the troublemakers in the moment, consider using a Ring doorbell camera or some sort of other mounted video recorder.
You could take the issue to a neighborhood Facebook group to see how other people are handling it. You could invest in a bullhorn to express yourself more forcefully. You could go all out and build a fence. There are a number of things you can do to protect your yard without setting booby traps.
If you have questions about protecting or defending your property, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!