Time to re-examine Make My Day law?

What if Colorado’s Make My Day Law didn’t exist?

Rather than finding Joseph Hoskins immune from prosecution in the fatal New Year’s Day shooting of Randy Cook, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger might have concluded that Hoskins unreasonably escalated the situation by introducing a shotgun into a fistfight. At a minimum, Hautzinger would have had some latitude in bringing charges against Hoskins and letting a jury decide if he acted in self-defense. In this hypothetical scenario, a jury would be tasked with factoring in whether extenuating circumstances, such as drinking, text threats and taunting, poked any holes into a legal defense predicated on the justifiable use of deadly force.

Instead, Make My Day took prosecutorial discretion out of the equation. As we noted earlier, we find no fault in Hautzinger’s application of the law. Indeed, the statute is so black and white that Hautzinger effectively had no choice in the matter. In announcing his decision, the DA expressed frustration that he could hold no one accountable.

The Cook shooting brings to light certain perverse outcomes when a prosecutor decides Make My Day is applicable. We’re not suggesting the Legislature needs to scrap it entirely, but the statute could use more robust language.

As it stands now, once a district attorney has decided that someone is immune from prosecution under Make My Day, there’s no recourse for the victim’s family. There’s no appeals process. One idea is to change the law so that it provides a legal remedy — an automatic judicial review. It would insulate prosectors and investigators from whisper campaigns and cover-up allegations and validate the results of the investigation.

A better idea is to tweak the language that provides blanket immunity or remove immunity altogether. Under Make My Day (Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-704.5) an occupant of a dwelling is immune from prosecution for using deadly physical force against another person if the other person has made an illegal entry into the dwelling and if the occupant reasonably believes the other person has committed or will commit any crime in the dwelling and the occupant reasonably believes the other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight.

Under these most liberal and subjective of parameters, prosectors’ hands are tied. Under the right conditions, a home- dweller could get immunity from killing an obnoxious neighbor in a shoving match over loud music. A woman could be shot, consequence-free, for barging into a house and slapping her ex for spreading rumors about her.

The law was intended for people to feel safe in their homes, but it lacks the precise language to prevent a miscarriage of justice.

We think the law should reflect that deadly force is justified when a person reasonably fears for his or her life.

Invariably any law will bump up against a perfect storm of special circumstances that reveal its shortcomings. Then it’s up to lawmakers to decide if it’s time to change it.


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There are safer alternatives than the use of deadly force, which can cause horrible and irreversible consequences for everyone. The law used to say people had a “duty to retreat” from a conflict, that is, you are permitted to use deadly force in self-defense only when a safe retreat is impossible or when retreating poses a danger. Had this law still been in place, it would have either 1) assured everyone involved in this altercation would have lived and gone home to their families, and Mr. Hoskins would not have to bear the burden of knowing he unnecessarily killed another human being, or 2) Mr. Hoskins would have had to defend his use of deadly force to a jury, as should be the case for anyone who intentionally kills another.

No way. I can assure that if you enter my house and corner me in my bedroom one of us is leaving having been shot. Period. Self defense is right I am DEFENDING MY HOME where YOU were not invited. Retreat? Retreat? Are you kidding me. Keep your sorry butt in the street and you needn’t worry. Arrogant self appointed elitists who think that they are so secure and so stylishly politically correct are stylishly tearing this country down. Just exactly, Ms Landman, where exactly was Hoskins to retreat to? His closet? No maam Mr Cook should have kept his alcohol fueled macho somewhere else. He was not INVITED there and COOK had more than adequate chances to retreat. Why, in your stylish mind, should the HOMEOWNER have a duty to retreat? Intentionally kills? You obviously are a low information pundit concerning this matter. Indeed there are “safer alternative” such as keeping your drunk tail out of places in which you are not invited.

Mr. Sanders, Mr. Cook was leaving Mr. Hoskins’ home when Mr. Hoskins intentionally drew him back into the altercation. Mr. Hoskins needed only let Mr. Cook leave unimpeded to avoid the entire part of the fiasco that involved the death of a participant. Both men may were clearly acting stupidly in this instance, but death is a high and irreversible price to pay for stupid behavior, especially when the death was avoidable. Randy Cook had three children—a son and two daughters, as well as nieces, nephews and parents and siblings who loved him. His kids will grow up without a father now because of Mr. Hoskins’ actions, and Mr. Hoskins will have to live with the terrible knowledge that he has murdered their father when he didn’t have to. The death was avoidable. Had no gun been available, both men would have walked away alive—definitely a better consequence for Randy Cook’s children and family.

No maam. That is not true. Altercation outside drew him back in. He didn’t need to go back in because of drunken words back and forth. No matter how you cut it Hoskins DID NOT drag him back in. Why do you NOT accept the fact that COOK could have just left. PERIOD. He was outside. Period. He could have left. All that drawing BS in is just that BS. I am sorry for his family’s loss. Had he been home with that family instead of doing what he was doing he would be here today. Make no mistake Cook should have NOT been there in the first place. Especially with the intent he had for going there. DO NOT EVER MISTAKE THE FACT THAT IF YOU ARE UNINVITED THEN GO SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU ARE INVITED. I agree that this was a tragedy. Supposed grown men acting like drunken juveniles. Make no mistake the situation is not there had uninvited people NOT been there. And there for the purpose of exacting some revenge due to some fACEBOOK Posting. Ridiculous.

I think you should sit in the corner of your room with your family huddled around you while someone tears the hell out of your house looking for money or quick sale items, just once. I think you should have someone kick in your door after you call for the cops and wait what seems like an eternity while you sit there helpless and the perpetrator then kicks in your bedroom door. I think we are all responsible for our own safety and if we are not willing to take the responsibility of protecting ourselves and our families we deserve what we get. If that means deadly force, bring it, if that means dealing with shooting another human being that has threatened me and mine in my own home, it’s a safer world. The type person that would conceive it is their right to come in to my home with violence and theft on their mind is not going to leave. End of sentence?! Richard Bright, not Virginia, she’s safely sleeping. If you are in my house uninvited, think before entering

Okay, I think I’m getting what you’re saying.

So If your own son or daughter got killed in a similar drunken altercation, then you wouldn’t think much of it, you’d just shrug, say it all played out exactly the way it should have and that nothing could have or should have been done to save your child’s life or hold anyone accountable for the killing.

So the Sixth Commandment is wrong then. Are you saying it should actually read “Thou shalt not kill except when you think it’s okay to kill.”

Do I have this right?

there in lies the responsibility. I taught my sons and daughters to respect private property, don’t drink yourself into a stupor, and think about your actions. Should their actions bring them that type of response, why would they put themselves in that situation by associating with those people, then they might have the same outcome. Should you be threatened? no, are you at times, oh yeah it could happen. Unfortunately others in our society do not respect the Commandments, do not respect private property, and do not respect you or I. I would protect my family and myself at all costs under those circumstances and have done so in the Marine Corps. If your child acts in those manners ,if my child doesn’t come into play in the dark when someone has broken in my house. They loose their rights at that moment, whomever’s child they are they have made a poor decision, now haven’t they? Hopefully we, as parents take the time to teach our children better values and the evils of life stay away from them, drugs, sinners and the like.
Richard Bright

No, Ms. Landman, you do not have the commandment right.  When translated correctly to English, it is “Thou shall not murder.”

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