If my trained protection dog attacks a criminal, will I face legal reparations?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my trained protection dog attacks a criminal, will I face legal reparations?

Someone stole my tenant’s wallet from inside her car minutes after she went in her apartment to get something. We own the house she lives in and the house is right next to the one we live in. I own a working line German Shepherd that is being trained in protection work long story short, he is being trained the same way police dogs are trained. What would happen if I just opened the gate and launched my dog after the person that stole the wallet? I want to know how I can

Asked on July 13, 2017 under Criminal Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can't exert force on someone who has already committed the crime, to detain them--especially not when it was just a property crime. Just like a police officer cannot shoot a fleeing suspect in the back, you can't sick your dog on a suspect because you don't want them to get away. Whether your property or your tenant's, you can only use force to *protect* a person, not to detain (or punish) a suspected criminal after a crime is done.

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