Castle Doctrine

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Jamarco Edwards ENGL 1304 March 22, 2012
Castle Doctrine

A castle doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person's abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances attack an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution. Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases “when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another”. The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states. The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that “an Englishman's home is his castle”. Each state differs in the way it incorporates the castle doctrine into its laws, what premises are covered (abode only, or other places too), what degree of retreat or non-deadly resistance is required before deadly force can be used, etc. There are now 31 states that have some form of the law, the question is often raised, how can the Castle Doctrine protect you when you defend your family? The first thing to understand is just what the intent of the law entails and some background as to why it was passed. There is a long history that is based on one’s right and ability to protect their property and families. In other states the issue has been addressed with laws describing the defense of homes and property. One of the most interesting was the so-called “Make my day!” law in Colorado. It was taken from the statement made by ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan in the Clint Eastwood movie, “Sudden Impact.” The concept of the right for one to...
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