You've probably heard a saying that goes something like, "A man's home is his castle." Did you know that most states have passed some sort of a Castle Doctrine or castle law, which gives homeowners the right to defend themselves inside their own homes?
While Castle Doctrines vary from state to state, they generally give citizens who are in their homes (and in some states, in their vehicles or workplaces) the right to protect themselves and others' by using force, and in some circumstances, deadly force.
Before you assume that you are protected by the Castle Doctrine, you want to learn your state laws. For what may be an act of "self-defense" in one state, may be prosecuted as manslaughter or murder in another state.
Strong vs. Soft Castle Laws
Most states have enacted some version of a castle law; some states have enacted strong castle laws, while others have softer versions of the law. For example, Texas has a strong castle law.
In Texas, citizens are allowed to protect their homes, their vehicles, and their place of business and they can use force, including deadly force if an intruder attempts to commit a crime, such as rape, murder, or robbery. In Texas, retreat is not required for a citizen to be justified to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder.
In addition to Texas, other states with strong Castle Doctrine laws include, but are not limited to: Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.
On the other hand, New York and California have softer Castle Doctrine laws. For example, in California, citizens are allowed to protect their home and use deadly force when they feel that they are in physical danger, but that does not relate to theft, nor does the law extend to vehicles or places of employment.
In New York, homeowners can only use deadly force if they have no way to retreat, and New Yorkers cannot use this defense if they were the initial aggressor.
If you are being charged with a crime after protecting yourself or others from an intruder, please contact a criminal defense attorney at once to defend your rights under your state's Castle Doctrine!