The most important thing to note is that the laws regarding the defense of home and property family vary from state-to-state. The following discussion provides a very general explanation of the common law developed over the years. To be sure, there are many, many exceptions to these rules, but it’s still helpful to have a basic understanding of what you should do when someone is threatening your home and hearth.
The “Castle Doctrine” is a Home Dweller’s First Line of Defense
The common saying is that a man’s home is his castle. Well, courts generally agree. The “Castle Doctrine” is a legal defense theory that gives a homeowner (renters, occupants, etc. included) the right to protect his (or her) family (and others present in his home) with the use of deadly force. So, if a homeowner kills an intruder, and charges are brought against him for homicide, he would raise the “Castle Doctrine” as a defense to his actions. A person seeking to use it as a defense should remember that the burden is on them to prove that they acted reasonably in response to the threat. This means that the homeowner should be prepared to submit evidence to support his defense.
[For further information about what constitutes a “dwelling place,” “home”, or “dwelling”, see here.]
The Castle Doctrine’s General Requirements
Although the doctrine’s precise rules vary from state-to-state (be sure to check your state’s laws!), there are several general principles:
- The homeowner must be inside of his home (front yard doesn’t count – this is another issue);
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