Castle Doctrine Law In the U.S.

08/15/2018
by Scotsman Shield
Castle Doctrine Law

According to the Department of Justice, over three billion home invasions occur in America each year.

No matter where you live, it's important that you take the safety of yourself and your home very seriously. Part of taking the proper precautions is knowing your legal rights. Different states in the country have different laws when it comes to intruders on your property and the actions that you can legally take.

The Castle Doctrine Law and Stand Your Ground are the two most common legal practices when it comes to self-defense in the United States.

Below, we'll walk you through where and how these laws apply and everything that you need to know about them. That way, you'll be prepared even in the worst case scenario.

What is a Castle Doctrine Law?

The core idea behind the Castle Doctrine law is the idea of self-defense. These laws allow American citizens to respond to physical threats or force without fear of criminal prosecution.

There is a slight difference when it comes to Castle Doctrine Law and Stand Your Ground. Castle Doctrine law defines an individual's right to self-defense on their own property. This includes their home, workplace, and vehicle. Stand Your Ground extends this right to anywhere an individual has a legal right to be.

In states without strong self-defense laws, most individuals under threat of physical injury have a "duty to retreat."

The duty to retreat means that a person who is under an immediate threat of harm should retreat from the threat as much as possible before responding in self-defense. The stringentness of the law varies from state to state, and most states have a generally loose conception of what constitutes a reasonable attempt to retreat.

In contrast, Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws mean that citizens have no obligation to attempt to retreat before taking actions in self-defense. It puts the power and safety of an individual immediately into their own hands.

In many cases, an individual is allowed to use even lethal force in an attempt to defend themselves-- immediately and without question.

How Does The Law Differ By State?

Most states provide some sort of legal protection for individuals who act in self-defense. Some of these states abide by duty to retreat. Many abide by Castle Doctrine, and about twenty-five have enacted some version of Stand Your Ground laws.

The language of these laws vary from state to state, and the way they are employed in court differ. It is very important to look into the specifics of how the law is interpreted in your own state.

New York, Maryland, Wyoming, and several other states still abide by a duty to retreat. This means the individual under threat must prove they took some effort to remove themselves from the situation. States like California operate under Castle Doctrine Law, allowing citizens to use deadly force in their own home if required.

And some states go further. Florida's law protects citizens and allows them to "Stand Their Ground" against attackers anywhere and everywhere. They may even use deadly force if they feel as if their lives may be at stake.

Florida actually has the most stringent Stand Your Ground law in the country. The first stand your ground law originated in Florida in 2005 and was passed with the strong support of the NRA. In the state of Florida, it is the responsibility of the state to prove that an individual didn't act in self-defense, as opposed to an individual having to prove to the court that they did.

It's important to carefully read the legal language when it comes to self-defense in your own particular state.

Castle Doctrine Requirements

When it comes to employing the Castle Doctrine Law, one must prove a number of things.

Many states place limitations on when, where and who can use deadly force, and the extent of force that is allowed. The burden of the Castle Doctrine is on the defendant, meaning one must prove that their actions were taken in proper and legal self-defense.

The requirements are as follows. One must be inside their own home when the action of self-defense was taken. The legal definition of home is very stringent, defining the place where the person legally resides, and not covering front or backyards.

The second component is that the victim must have succeeded or was attempting forced entry into the defendant's home. There must be evidence that the victim was attempting an unlawful entry. The law does not apply to someone who was allowed into the house legally but then was forced out after. On the same token, the defendant cannot be the first aggressor in the confrontation.

The third, final, and most important component is the defendant's proof that their use of deadly force was reasonable. The amount of proof that a defendant has to provide in this regard varies state by state. In many states, a defendant must prove that in addition to unlawful entry, the victim posed a very real physical threat to the defendant. If an individual cannot prove that they were under physical threat, then they will not be able to employ the Castle Law Doctrine.

In some states, an element of duty to retreat is still considered in the Castle Law Doctrine. Defendants must show they took some attempt to leave the situation before using excessive force.

Self-Defense Is The Best Defense

As the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. When it comes to the safety of yourself and your family, this is definitely the case. Knowing the word of the law when it comes to self-defense in your state can be incredibly valuable.

Understanding the Castle Law Doctrine and how it differs from other self-defense laws can be vital if you live in a state that employs that legal philosophy. With the knowledge and the right tools by your side, you can ensure your safety both physically and legally.

Check out our blog for more important information on self-defense. It might just save your life.

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