When is lethal force justified in an arson attack?

The following is a news story out of Florida (of course) where an unknown attacker threw two molotov cocktails at an occupied dwelling.

deadly force laws colorado arson

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (CNN) – A man was caught on camera throwing Molotov cocktails at a house, according to police.

It happened on Sunday in Fort Pierce, Florida.

In the video, a man is seen running up to the window of a house and throwing something inside. Flames were then seen starting to shoot out of the window.

Police reported the object was a Molotov cocktail.


In Colorado, lethal force is justified to defend a person who is in imminent threat of death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual assault.

(2)Deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and:

(a)The actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury; or

(c)The other person is committing or reasonably appears about to commit kidnapping as defined in section 18-3-301 or 18-3-302, robbery as defined in section 18-4-301 or 18-4-302, sexual assault as set forth in section 18-3-402, or in section 18-3-403 as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, or assault as defined in sections 18-3-202 and 18-3-203.

C.R.S. 18-12-704.(2)(a)(b)(c)

Deadly force is also justified to prevent first degree arson.

A person in possession or control of any building, realty, or other premises, or a person who is licensed or privileged to be thereon, is justified in using reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to prevent or terminate what he reasonably believes to be the commission or attempted commission of an unlawful trespass by the other person in or upon the building, realty, or premises. However, he may use deadly force only in defense of himself or another as described in section 18-1-704, or when he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent what he reasonably believes to be an attempt by the trespasser to commit first degree arson.

C.R.S. 18-1-705

Obviously this is not a usual case, but it’s important to test your knowledge and understanding of the laws of your state if you consider yourself a protector.

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