Castle Doctrine Fact vs. Fiction

Castle Doctrine Fact vs. Fiction

Photo: Personal Defense World.com

Learn the facts behind Castle Doctrine when it comes to protecting your family!

“A man’s home is his castle; attacked there, he need not retreat.” It’s a catchphrase known even to people who don’t keep weapons for self-defense. It’s a tenet of the English common law, from which American law so largely derives. It’s called Castle Doctrine.

But as with any law, we don’t fully grasp it until we read the fine print. Anti-gun Senator Nancy Pelosi famously—or infamously—said, “We won’t know what’s in the law until we pass it.” The senator’s quote lives on today as a classic example of irresponsible stupidity.

And if any of us ever have to shoot a home invader in defense of ourselves or our families, and are forced to invoke Castle Doctrine, if we don’t know what it actually says, we would be just as irresponsible and just as stupid.

As it applies to the armed citizen, Castle Doctrine means that if you are attacked in your own home, you need not retreat, but may stand your ground and defend yourself with whatever force is necessary. The fine print is found, not only in the law itself, but in case law—the interpretation of the laws by the higher courts—which binds courts that follow at trial level with subsequent such cases.

The law itself articulates certain exemptions. So will the case law. And, in the end, there are going to be at least two other elements in play that only those actually involved in trials seem to know about: trial strategy and jury psychology.

Most lawyers I’ve discussed it with tell me that they didn’t learn much about trial tactics in law school. “Law school taught me the law; I learned trial tactics ‘on the job’ and in CLE [Continuing Legal Education] seminars,” has always been the typical comment. Trial tactics—when bad lawyers try to stick it to good people—sometimes involve coming up with a fantasy of what happened. Unfortunately, what you and I would call BS is, when uttered by an attorney, dignified as “the plaintiff’s theory of the case” and must be treated in court as if it could be every bit as valid as the actual truth that you, the defendant who justifiably pulled the trigger, are trying to get across to the judge and jury.

Jury psychology is very much in the same category, and we’ll go into that more deeply pretty soon.

Busting Myths

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Yes, you are the king or queen of your castle. Yes, your home is that castle. However, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to install an execution chamber.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I can/will shoot any stranger I find in my house, because Castle Doctrine says I can”? Well, that simply isn’t the case. In one lawsuit in Florida, a man paid out a great deal of money when he shot a workman who—upon the shooter’s request—had come to his home to repair some storm damage. In the early morning twilight, the homeowner saw the man with a long object over his shoulder that he thought was a gun, so the homeowner opened fire and inflicted permanently crippling injury. Yes, that cost him a huge financial settlement. He was lucky he didn’t go to prison for it……read more here.

 

By Massad Ayoob 

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