Thursday, May 7, 2009

Self Defense Castle Doctrine Expanding In The USA

"Make My Day" is used to describe the "Castle Doctrine" law of self defense. Anti gun groups like to call it "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later." When Florida passed their Castle Law, the Bradys put up billboards in the state that warned tourists that they would be shot without provocation because of the law. They also stationed operatives in Florida airports who passed out brochures with a similar message. Like other wild Bradyesque claims, there was not much truth in their allegations. It was an attempt to create anti gun hysteria.

In non-Castle Law states, the law requires a person to get away from the threat, or try to get away. Self defense is not allowed until that point. This requirement of duty to retreat from the threat generally extends to other situations outside that do not involve being in buildings, such as street mugging, carjacking, or robbery attempts. There is no duty to retreat from the threat of an intruder or danger he poses in Castle Law states.

Castle laws generally work like this:

A person has to be making, or have already made an attempt to illegally or forcefully enter your home while someone is there. This also applies to vehicles or place of business.

The threatening person must be breaking the law.

In most jurisdictions the occupant must believe that the other is going to commit a crime or honestly and reasonably believe that there is an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the occupant.

The person in jeopardy cannot have instigated the break in or attack.

Some state laws, such as Michigan, have a legal presumption that when you encounter a stranger in your home, that by the person's just being there, he means to do you harm.

Once a person invokes the state's Castle Law for self defense, there is an automatic rebuttable legal presumption that the person acted in self defense.

The local prosecutor has the authority to decide whether a claim of self defense is justified, and whether or not a case goes to trial. In that event, the jury is the ultimate authority. Some jurisdictions have an implied, non binding and informal Castle Law because the prosecutor uses common sense when the facts warrant it. Prosecutors in Montana had such a philosophy even when the law was officially codified there this year.

People who use self defense under the Castle Law are generally immune from lawsuit from the people they defend against. Check your state laws.

These states have some type of version of the Castle Law. Check the laws of the state you are interested in for more information.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas

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