Since a young Oklahoma widow shot and killed a home intruder on New Year’s Eve 2010, the Castle Doctrine law has been making the national news. In the last few weeks, there has been a bigger push for states that do not have a Castle Doctrine law enacted to start one and even extend Castle Doctrine laws for states that have a form of the self-defense law. Most recently was Virginia’s House Bill 48 that passed the Senate on Friday, February 3, 2012 on a 12 to 6 vote and now will move to the Senate. Castle Doctrine law is the 1985 “Make My Day Law” in Colorado, which extended Colorado’s Castle Doctrine law to grant immunity to the victim who must use lethal force.
Another landmark case of the passing of a Castle Doctrine law was Florida in October of 2005 called the “Personal Protection Bill” which extended the rights of citizens to protect themselves with deadly force not only in the home, but also to vehicles, places of business, and anywhere else someone legally has a right to be. The “Personal Protection Bill” also grants Floridians immunity against civil lawsuits or charges in cases of lethal self-defense.
Originating from Old English Law, the Castle Doctrine and forms thereof give you the right to protect yourself in your home from threat. The Castle Doctrine is not a federally mandated law; no one yet has proven in a court of law that the Second Amendment extends that right. Each individual state must adopt its own Castle Doctrine laws.
In general, Castle Doctrine means that to use lawful deadly force, you must feel threatened by an intruder who has entered your home illegally and intends to do you harm or commit a felony. Some states have extensive Castle Doctrine laws, while others have stringent ones; meaning some states require you, by law, to attempt to retreat before using lethal force against a threat.
Currently, 25 states have passed the NRA-model of the Castle Doctrine, with several others having a form of the law. This year, many more states are pushing to enact or extend Castle Doctrine laws.
The Colorado House committee passed a bill, called “Make My Day Better” on February 2, 2012 extending their “Make My Day Law” to the workplace. Massachusetts was set to hear Bill S. 661 on February 7, 2012. Minnesota introduced the Defense of Dwelling & Person Act HF1467/SF1357. The bill was approved last year in the house and on February 9, 2012, it passed through the Senate Finance Committee with a 10 to five vote. It will now go to the full Senate. Governor Mark Dayton has not made a statement on whether or not he will sign the bill or veto it.
Nebraska had a hearing on LB804 on January 31, 2012. No news on an update has been found for these proposed bills as of this posting. North Carolina successfully extended their Castle Doctrine law early January to include vehicles and places of work. Unfortunately, both Oregon and Washington’s purposed bills have stalled.
Does your state have a Castle Doctrine? Why do you think the passing of the Castle Doctrine is so important?