Clearing your property at night with a weapon mounted light - when using your light turns into brandishing your weapon. (Menacing)

EHJ

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Last week my poor Honda was stolen for the 3rd - and most probably the last time. 280k miles - leaky rack - impending euthanasia - but still a loyal little car I had grown attached to. :(
So I quickly got on the phone to report her missing. (Last time she 'escaped' she apparently was an unwilling participant in a local crime spree!)
On hold for 35 minutes - but the officers arrived pretty quickly.

During our conversation I learned that over a dozen cars were lifted near here in only the previous 3 days. Lot of activity here in The Flats lately I guess.
Lots of property theft from homes, too. During our chat the subject of clearing a homeowners yard at night with a weapon and light came up.
It was on the fly. I had never thought about the situation before and the question came up - When does my using my weapon light as illumination tool (on my own property) turn into a menacing / brandishing event should I find someone hiding in my yard? (ORS 166.190 ; ORS 166.220)

As far as he was concerned - if I found a trespasser on my property he'd feel it reasonable that I would be naturally fearful, which would justify my 'light' turning into my 'weapon'. We went back and forth on the topic and agreed it was a head scratch-er - but he also warned me that just because an officer could give a pass - anyone else down hill of his report (DA's office) could reinterpret it as straight brandishing (menacing) if they really wanted. No guarantees. Especially with today's politics motivating every action by city council.

Just wanted to share and see what other's opinions would be. Up until then I had never given it a thought. But now that I have (Port Sumter!) I realize that short of a reasonable and fair officer showing on scene and helping with creative report writing - this could get messy as hell with the wrong perspective.
 
My take is its your property. If you want to walk around it with your WML on to observe/clear/investigate that's YOUR business. Any uninvited people that happen to be there are trespassing and that's on them. Brandishing on your own property seems a stretch. But nothing would surprise me these days....you know....feelings and all. :rolleyes:
 
OP
EHJ

EHJ

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My take is its your property. If you want to walk around it with your WML on to observe/clear/investigate that's YOUR business. Any uninvited people that happen to be there are trespassing and that's on them. Brandishing on your own property seems a stretch. But nothing would surprise me these days....you know....feelings and all. :rolleyes:
Your property, your rules.
I wouldn't hesitate to clear an area if I used a mounted light.
Agreed.
And so would any rational person.
Which is why I never gave it a second thought.
But Portland DA's have an entirely different take on 'trespassing' around here - some even trying to assert that "un fenced yards have lesser expectations or privacy unless expressly stated in person..." :rolleyes: (Seriously)
 
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huzar

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There's the legal question of whether searching with a WML constitutes brandishing, and there's the actual wisdom of it... If there's an armed bad guy in those bushes, the most likely thing he will aim for is your flashlight. A hand-held light can be moved around, held away from your body so as not to give away your precise position. Can't do that with a WML. There's things a WML is good for, and things a hand-held is good for -- carry both, and use the right tool for the job at the right time.
 
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Gotta side with @huzar on this one...

My EDC wears a WML and sits on my nightstand every night, ready to rock.
I live alone, so if I encounter ANYONE inside my home, my actions subsequent to discovery of an intruder should be obvious to anyone but the most dense.

For exterior clearing, I would investigate with my industrial-strength LED MagLite in my left hand and held away from my body, with my right hand on my pistol.
Should it become necessary to engage an intruder, it is a simple matter to simultaneously drop the flashlight and draw the pistol.
At this point, the WML comes on and I have every right to "brandish" that EDC at the criminal interloper who is upon my property.

I have successfully employed this technique at least once in the recent past (March 2016), and my local LE concurred with my system.
But then again, I live in eastern WA, so YMMV...
 
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JRuby

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I would not be turning the light on til I had found something of interest - I would not walk around with it turned on constantly. A light always on while walking your property at night provides too much info to a possible advisary. It makes you a possible bullet collector. I know my property well enough that I really dont need a light at night to find our cat outside.
 
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OldTengu

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There's the legal question of whether searching with a WML constitutes is brandishing, and there's the actual wisdom of it... If there's an armed bad guy in those bushes, the most likely thing he will aim for is your flashlight. A hand-held light can be moved around, held away from your body so as not to give away your precise position. Can't do that with a WML. There's things a WML is good for, and things a hand-held is good for -- carry both, and use the right tool for the job at the right time.
To add, if someone is on your property with a weapon it’s a lot less likely to be random. Car thefts aren’t always, but tend to be crimes of opportunity rather than a planned out operation. If someone is trying to get into your house, likely not random. Stealing a beat to hell Honda? Probably random, and likely unarmed. Stay armed, but keep a regular flashlight just in case.
 
I would not be turning the light on til I had found something of interest - I would not walk around with it turned on constantly. A light always on while walking your property at night provides too much info to a possible advisory. It makes you a possible bullet collector. I know my property well enough that I really dont need a light at night to find our cat outside.
True. I know my property quite well as well.
When I was investigating my property back in March 2016 as alluded to above, I already had every reason to believe an intruder was within, as I heard him clamber over my 6-foot fence whilst I was sitting in my living room, on alert. This was as a result of the police having formed a cordon of 4 square blocks, with my home roughly in the middle of it, with their lights flashing in the street. So I already knew something was afoot.
 
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The Heretic

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My take is its your property. If you want to walk around it with your WML on to observe/clear/investigate that's YOUR business. Any uninvited people that happen to be there are trespassing and that's on them. Brandishing on your own property seems a stretch. But nothing would surprise me these days....you know....feelings and all. :rolleyes:
I do use a WML on my shotgun from time to time when checking out issues on my property. But at least half the time I am also using a small light clipped to the bill of my ball cap as a headlamp. THis allows me to shine a powerful light (up to 1K Lumen) in any direction I look at without pointing a weapon, but I do use the WML light in conjunction with the headlamp.

This is after dark. Due to my location (halfway down a long private road on a mountain), and well on my own property of 20 acres, it is unlikely I will encounter any general public or the general public would witness what I am doing - except for my neighbors, all of whom would not have any objection to my typical behavior. I don't go around with my shotgun shouldered or my handgun at the ready - both are carried in a more casual fashion, but are usually in my hands.

It would be even less likely that a LEO would be anywhere near my property unless called there by one of the neighborhood.

It is unlikely that someone would come onto my property after dark - most likely would a delivery vehicle, in which case I won't be pointing any weapons at anybody - indeed, I would be unlikely to let the persons know I have a weapon handy.

So I am not too worried about brandishing charges here. In a more populated area, I would be more careful about how I carry a firearm, not using it in the same fashion.

Then there is the issue of wild animals; we have bears, cougars and feral canines here - I can argue that I am justified in defending myself against them.

In short, there are advantages to being rural.
 

ilikegunspdx

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Last week my poor Honda was stolen for the 3rd - and most probably the last time. 280k miles - leaky rack - impending euthanasia - but still a loyal little car I had grown attached to. :(
So I quickly got on the phone to report her missing. (Last time she 'escaped' she apparently was an unwilling participant in a local crime spree!)
On hold for 35 minutes - but the officers arrived pretty quickly.

During our conversation I learned that over a dozen cars were lifted near here in only the previous 3 days. Lot of activity here in The Flats lately I guess.
Lots of property theft from homes, too. During our chat the subject of clearing a homeowners yard at night with a weapon and light came up.
It was on the fly. I had never thought about the situation before and the question came up - When does my using my weapon light as illumination tool (on my own property) turn into a menacing / brandishing event should I find someone hiding in my yard? (ORS 166.190 ; ORS 166.220)

As far as he was concerned - if I found a trespasser on my property he'd feel it reasonable that I would be naturally fearful, which would justify my 'light' turning into my 'weapon'. We went back and forth on the topic and agreed it was a head scratch-er - but he also warned me that just because an officer could give a pass - anyone else down hill of his report (DA's office) could reinterpret it as straight brandishing (menacing) if they really wanted. No guarantees. Especially with today's politics motivating every action by city council.

Just wanted to share and see what other's opinions would be. Up until then I had never given it a thought. But now that I have (Port Sumter!) I realize that short of a reasonable and fair officer showing on scene and helping with creative report writing - this could get messy as hell with the wrong perspective.
Re light as a weapon it's a great question imo and we need to keep asking these questions over and over to determine what the risks are and what is legal.

I think this is one where u use common sense. Use of deadly force (such as a gun) has specific circumstances where it is ok. The person using deadly force will have to deal with the consequences of that, including explaining why their life was at risk etc etc

Threatening deadly force, again there are possible consequences but those would be more minor than using deadly force of course.

Defending yourself from attack with other weapons, threatening someone with other weapons, etc is all more murky and again the person would have to deal with potential consequences. I know one guy who walked towards his neighbor in a threatening manner (they have been squabbling for years) with a shovel in his hand (no physical altercation at all). Cost him many many thousands of dollars in court and he was worried about going to jail over it.

I say read the laws for ur area. Then re-read them. Then ask attorney if u really want to. Then re-read them. Then lay out a general plan for what U would do in potential situations u run into.

For example: situation is two teenage kids fighting, would you: (1) ignore, (2) observe and call cops, (3) call cops and leave, (4) intervene etc. the more you have planned it out in advance the easier for you to know what to do. Then repeat for other likely scenarios.

I think a vehicle is even more of a grey area. If someone comes up to your car threateningly And is pounding on your window (not to break it but let's say he was mad or crazy) with no weapon visible, what can u do? Using the car to push them off could be assault or ? Can they actually harm you or persons in the car if windows are up and doors are locked? could u point a loaded gun at the person legally? Etc etc - lots of questions.
 
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Re light as a weapon it's a great question imo and we need to keep asking these questions over and over to determine what the risks are and what is legal.

I think this is one where u use common sense. Use of deadly force (such as a gun) has specific circumstances where it is ok. The person using deadly force will have to deal with the consequences of that, including explaining why their life was at risk etc etc

Threatening deadly force, again there are possible consequences but those would be more minor than using deadly force of course.

Defending yourself from attack with other weapons, threatening someone with other weapons, etc is all more murky and again the person would have to deal with potential consequences. I know one guy who walked towards his neighbor in a threatening manner (they have been squabbling for years) with a shovel in his hand (no physical altercation at all). Cost him many many thousands of dollars in court and he was worried about going to jail over it.

I say read the laws for ur area. Then re-read them. Then ask attorney if u really want to. Then re-read them. Then lay out a general plan for what U would do in potential situations u run into.

For example: situation is two teenage kids fighting, would you: (1) ignore, (2) observe and call cops, (3) call cops and leave, (4) intervene etc. the more you have planned it out in advance the easier for you to know what to do. Then repeat for other likely scenarios.

I think a vehicle is even more of a grey area. If someone comes up to your car threateningly And is pounding on your window (not to break it but let's say he was mad or crazy) with no weapon visible, what can u do? Using the car to push them off could be assault or ? Can they actually harm you or persons in the car if windows are up and doors are locked? could u point a loaded gun at the person legally? Etc etc - lots of questions.
I would like to see discussion on your last scenario...
 

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