Rooted in English common law.
The castle law has its base in English Common Law, whereby a person has the right to protect their abode with exception from legal prosecution arising out of the consequences of the permitted use of force, including deadly force to defend themselves from intruders in that instant. In other words, a person should not have to retreat from being intruded upon or attacked in their own home, or in some states, the law is extended to cover a person’s place of work or car. Homicide may be justified when a death of an intruder occurs in one’s home under the castle law, but that does not mean that indiscriminate violence is permitted when a person is caught trespassing. Understanding the state law where you live is important, so actions you take to protect yourself, or your home are not punished making you a criminal instead of a victim. Reviewing the laws is imperative if you plan on protecting your home with a firearm. Most states have some kind of castle law. The stronger laws do not require homeowners to attempt to retreat before using force to protect their domicile, and there are a few states that have very strong stand-your-ground laws allowing citizens to use force in their car or at work without first trying to retreat.
Castle law states.
The states that have some version of the castle law include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Strong laws vs. less protective laws.
Examples of states that have strong castle laws include Texas, where citizens are allowed to protect their homes, cars, or places of business, or employment with force, including lethal force if an intruder has, or is trying to illegally enter, or remove someone from any of these places, or is trying to commit rape, murder or robbery. A citizen does not have to retreat from an invasion in Texas. Florida has such a strong Castle Doctrine that the dwelling being protected does not need to have a roof; can be mobile or immobile; and can be as temporary as a tent. Other states with strong Castle Doctrine and stand-your-ground laws include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.
Some states have more of a structure regarding protection in one’s home, such as California where citizens are allowed to protect their homes with deadly force if they feel that they, or another person are in physical danger, but does not extend to theft, and it only protects residents in their home, and not in cars or at work. In New York you are not allowed to use deadly force unless you are certain you cannot avoid an intruder by retreating, then you may use deadly force if you are not the initial aggressor in the home encounter. If you live in Idaho, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., the laws are more specific on when you are permitted to use force to protect your home.
Value of legal counsel.
If you have been involved in a home invasion that led to injury or death to another party due to your use of force, contact a professional experienced attorney to review the facts of the case and determine if you fall under castle law protection in your state.