Castle Doctrine - Explained
What is the Castle Doctrine?
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What is the Castle Doctrine?
The Castle Doctrine, commonly referred to as a defense of habitation law, regards an individuals ability to protect themselves and their homes in the event of invasion by an intruder. More specifically, it provides legal protections for the use force to defend ones home without facing prosecution for the use of force. The castle doctrine is closely related to stand-your-ground laws.
How is the Castle Doctrine Used?
Where reasonably possible, an individual should retreat to escape violence. Castle doctrines lessen an individual's duty to retreat when they are attacked in their own homes. In the event of an attack and a person fears, with reason, of bodily harm or death to them or another, they can use force which will be justified, proof for charge impeded and affirmative defense against criminal homicide will be applied. Castle doctrine does not refer to a defined law but a set of principles that apply in many jurisdictions. The doctrine does not provide civil immunity, say from wrongful death suits. Castle doctrines applies in cases of justifiable homicide in self-defense. The homicide has to occur inside a person's home and the homeowner has to objectively show that the intruder had intentions of causing bodily harm or commit a felony. There are different ways in which this doctrine is incorporated into law. The circumstances considered when invoking this doctrine include premises covered, degree of retreat or non-lethal resistance applied before use of force and much more. Common conditions that involve invoking this doctrine include: Intruder acting unlawfully or forcibly entering private residence, vehicle or business.
- The intruder must not be an officer of the law
- Occupants of the home, office space or vehicle must reasonably believe that the intruder intends to harm them. In some states, the occupants only need to prove the intruder intended to commit a lesser felony such as burglary.
- Occupant of the home must not, in some way, have provoked the intrusion. The occupant must not be a fugitive of the law,
Colorado has make-my-day statute which offers immunity from prosecution for force used on an individual who makes an unlawful entry but not for force used against a person who stays unlawfully in a premise. Besides providing defense in criminal law, defenders are provided immunity from civil lawsuits. Without a clause that offers immunity, assailants can sue defenders for medical bills, disability, and pain resulting from injuries inflicted from used force. If the assailant dies, the next of kin could sue for wrongful death, but this is curtailed by this clause. However, immunity is not extended to the use of force which results to damages or injuries to non-criminal parties in intrusions.