PostHeaderIcon Does Your House Sometimes Feel Intimidated, Or Fearful?

An interesting topic popped up on my Facebook page last night. It all started when someone on James Spader’s latest series, The Blacklist, said a fertilizer warehouse had been robbed (at night when no one was there). Well, that can’t happen (robbing an inanimate object) unless the warehouse had hands to raise and felt threatened when the gang of masked bad guys arrived and aimed their weapons at it.

Anyway, I thought today might be a good time to address this topic in more detail…again.


Cordite, South Dakota – The home of I. Will Fillemfullalead at .357 Revolver Circle in Cordite, was robbed last night between the hours of 8pm and 11pm while the family was away enjoying a movie at a local theater. The robbers took everything from the home, leaving the Fillemfullalead’s with a single blanket and two rubber chickens. Both the Red Cross and the NRA have offered their assistance.

“When we got home, we saw that our house had been robbed. They took everything, right down to to the kid’s handguns and reloading kits,” said Mrs. Fillemfullalead. “The robbers had better hope the police catch them before we do, or there’ll never be a trial.”

Police spokesperson, Captain I. M. Overwait, says investigators have no leads at this time. He vows, though, that his department will catch the robbers.

Okay, how many times have you seen headlines similar to the ones above? Well, once is one time too many if you ask me, because a house CANNOT be robbed. No way, no how. A simple definition of a robbery is this – To take something (property) from a person by force, violence, or threat.

From a PERSON. Not an inanimate object. From a PERSON. Not a building.

You cannot threaten a house or business. You cannot intimidate a house. Nope, there has to be a person present to constitute a robbery. And he/she must have felt threatened and/or intimidated by the robber when the goods were taken. Otherwise, the Fillemfullalead’s home had been burglarized, and their property stolen. Besides, a crook who approaches the front door to your home and says to the house, “Stick ‘em up,” well, I’m thinking a larger dose of medication for him would be a fantastic idea.

You know, many people have asked me to review books on this site, and I’d resisted for a long time. Well, a while back I finally caved in and, as luck would have it, the first book that came my way featured both “the odor of cordite” and a house being robbed. Needless to say, I won’t be reviewing that one, not on a public blog, that is. I certainly wouldn’t want to “rob” the author of any sales by posting a bad review. Of course, the writing matched the level of research, so it’s best that I keep my thoughts to myself…this time.

A couple of other misuses of terminology are:

1. Someone using the term assault when they’re actually describing battery. Assault is an unlawful ATTEMPT, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. Battery is any unlawful beating, or other wrongful physical violence or constraint, inflicted on a human being without his consent (yes, there are people out there who ask, and sometimes even pay good money to have others batter them).

2. Homicide and Murder are not always synonymous.


3. A crime scene may or may not be the scene of the crime.

Remember, the secret to writing good fiction is “writing believable make believe.” Doesn’t mean it has to be true…you’ve just have to make us believe it is.

Finally, not every mask-wearing, property-invading creature is a robber, and any seasoned investigator will quickly be able to spot the bad guy(s). This young lady (she’s a mother now) is a regular visitor, coming and going as she pleases, and she’s not the slightest bit intimidating nor is she easily intimidated. She recently brought her little one over to meet us.

And, not every “bird” behind bars is a jailbird. Some are there because they needed an intervention and were placed in protective custody to heal. This beady-eyed fellow lives within a stone’s throw of our house. I think his parole hearing is coming up in the very near future, though.


16 Responses to “Does Your House Sometimes Feel Intimidated, Or Fearful?”

  • Jennifer Kiziah says:

    See, these things are why I need WPA. I know I’m guilty of writing some of those headlines you talked about. I’d like to get it correct. Copy editors need lessons, too!

  • Joyce Tremel says:

    That robbery/burglary thing is one of my pet peeves.

    I have a question for you about your info on assault and battery. Can that be different depending on what state you live in? In Pennsylvania you can be charged with simple assault or aggravated assault. From what I remember, I don’t think we have a battery charge in the crimes code.

  • Lee Lofland says:

    Sure, Joyce, each area can their own codes/laws and variations. I know the two (assault and battery) are two separate offenses in Philadelphia, though.

    A Philadelphia attorney posted – Assault and battery are actually two separate crimes. Assault is the threat of violence on another person, even if that person is not touched. Battery is any offensive touching of another person with the intent to cause harm. An unwanted touching, even if it does not result in pain to the other person, may still legally qualify as a battery.

  • Rhonda Lane says:

    Boy, am I confused. Individual state laws and jargon can screw up us writers but good.

    Back in my reporter days up here in CT, I covered the “cops & courts” beat and never saw “battery” charged. To give you an example, a dude wearing steel-tipped, pointy-toed cowboy boots kicked another dude down a flight of stairs and (mess)ed him up pretty good. The kicker was charged with second-degree assault because he’d used a weapon, those boots. I’m wracking my brain to remember if the charge stuck in court. I’m thinking it did.

  • Rhonda Lane says:

    PS – Love the lady raccoon taking a leisurely swim, especially with the soothing music. I needed that this morning.

    If she brings the kids over to your house again, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to see that video. :) ;)

  • Lee Lofland says:

    Connecticut –

    Battery charges include simple battery, sexual battery, battery related to family violence, and aggravated battery;

    Aggravated battery comes into play when a person intends to cause serious bodily harm, as would be the case if they use a weapon, or if the battery is directed toward a minor, a police officer, or other protected person;

    Assault is similar to battery but requires only a threat of violence, rather than an actual touching of the victim and it becomes aggravated assault if there is a deadly weapon or if done with the intent to commit a felony.

  • I get annoyed when the media proclaims a court has found a defendant, “innocent.” I haven’t researched the topic across the U.S. but, in every jurisdiction I’ve worked, the correct term is “not guilty.”

  • SZ says:

    That raccoon is so cute Hope you can get a video of the baby.

    Would the type of “unwanted touching” would that switch sex assalt / abuse / battery depending on the touch and age of the victim ?

    You know Lee, cordite can get you incenced sometimes so decided to do a little search on it. To the sidebar was “what does cordite smell like”. I had to click it. First site up was from UK. Smells like nail polish remover . . .

    Also found these two below:

    In the Warner Brothers cartoon Duck! Rabbit! Duck!, Daffy Duck, after being repeatedly shot by Elmer Fudd, declares, “Shoot me again! I enjoy it! I love the smell of burnt feathers, and gunpowder, and cordite!”

    The chewing of cordite, as a form of chewing gum was far from unknown in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The sweet taste made it attractive, and it gave the user feelings similar to those produced by alcohol.

    (Due to its explosive qualities, however, several fatalities were reported, from chewing too strenuously.(Ref: among other sources.))

  • Joyce Tremel says:

    In case anyone REALLY wants to be confused, here’s what I found about assault in Pennsylvania:

    And this is the list of offenses in the PA Crimes Code:

    You know I’m procrastinating when I’m reading the crimes code instead of writing, lol.

  • GunDiva says:

    I had a former Deputy Sheriff tell me that Colorado doesn’t recognize battery, only assault and that we have multiple levels of assault.

    However, for our national certifications (in healthcare), we must know that assault is the “threat” and battery is the “doing”. For example, telling a child that if they don’t behave, we’re going to give them a shot would be assault, but if we followed through and gave them a shot of saline (totally harmless) because they didn’t behave, we’d be committing battery.

    (I did not do any follow up research, figuring a career deputy would know the difference.)

  • Elizabeth Bryant says:

    I feel you Lee. To further muddy the waters, battery of a sexual nature is, in some states, called a sexual assault–in the statute.

    BTW, another VERY suspicious element to your story is that Cordite doesn’t HAVE any local movie theaters! I smell insurance fraud.

  • About “Innocent” vs. “Not guilty”. The print media uses innocent because there’s too much chance that the “not” in “not guilty” can get dropped, giving the sentence a whole different meaning!

  • When you write these subjects with all those lovely, silly names and address, the subject matter really plants itself in my head. I will bookmark this one though as I don’t want to make the assault vs. battery error. Loved seeing Mrs. Raccoon again. Can’t wait to see her little one.

  • ~Tim says:

    It irks me when a suspect says something like, “I was home alone at the time the crime was committed.” and the detective responds with, “So, you’ve got no alibi!”

    Since an alibi is by definition a claim of being elsewhere when an alleged offense was committed, that suspect does have an alibi. It might be unsubstantiated or unverified or even unprovable, but it is an alibi. I wonder whether in your experience law enforcement officers make that distinction, or is an unverified alibi no alibi at all?

  • Shannon J says:

    I think it depends on the state. In Iowa, it’s assault. And the gravity changes the charge and the penalty. Chapter 708. Sexual abuse is Chapter 709.

    Assault with the intent to inflict a serious injury; aggravated misdemeanor
    Assault causing bodily injury or mental illness; serious misdemeanor.
    Assault displaying or using a dangerous weapon; aggravated misdemeanor.
    Assault without intent to inflict serious injury but DOES; class D felony
    Assault with sexual penetration using an object; class C felony
    Any other assault except from those mentioned; simple misdemeanor.

    Nowhere did I find battery in our state’s code, aside from household batteries.

    I wouldn’t hold that one word against an author because it’s apparent that state laws differ and if they’re doing research and it doesn’t come up as battery in their state, well, that’s not really their fault.

    Let’s talk magazine vs clip…

  • Lee Lofland says:

    We always, always, always stress that writers should check the laws, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, terminology, etc. in the areas where their stories are set. Most information on this site is based on a majority of locations.

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