Your home should be your sanctuary. No one should ever be able to enter your home without your consent. If you are facing criminal charges after confronting an intruder inside your home, you may be able to utilize the Castle Doctrine to avoid a guilty verdict.
You can find out more about California Penal Code section 198.5 and whether the Castle Doctrine will apply to your case when you reach out to your criminal defense attorney to discuss your potential defense options.
What Is the Castle Doctrine?
The Castle Doctrine can be found under California Penal Code §198.5. Under the Castle Doctrine, there is no duty for the resident of a home to confront intruders inside their residence. Residents have the authority to use force against those who attempt to invade their homes or otherwise break in.
If someone attempted to use force or cause serious bodily injury or death to someone within a residence, those residents are presumed to have a reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to themselves or other household members. For this reason, they have the authority to use reasonable force when that individual attempts or breaks into their home.
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What Is the Presumption of Reasonable Fear of Great Bodily Harm or Imminent Death
There must be a presumption of reasonable fear of great bodily harm or imminent death for the Castle Doctrine to apply. The resident must have feared for their own safety or someone else in the home. The presumption can only apply when:
- An individual or other intruder forcibly attempts to enter or enters another person’s home without their consent
- The residents of the home had reasonable belief or knew that someone else was attempting to enter or forcibly entering their home
- The individual or intruder is not considered a member of the household
- The home’s resident attempted to use force or intended to use force to cause severe bodily injury or death to the individual or other intruder within the home
When there is a legal presumption of reasonable fear of great bodily injury or imminent death, the prosecuting attorney will then be faced with the uphill battle of proving that the defendant did not have a reasonable fear of bodily injury or death when they used force against the individual or other intruder entering their home. In this way, forcible entry can be considered a threat to the safety and the life of the residents in any given home.
All of these requirements will need to be met for a defendant to utilize the Castle Doctrine as part of their defense strategy. If you do not meet these requirements, a justifiable homicide, excusable homicide, or another self-defense strategy could be more suited for your case.
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When Does the Castle Doctrine Apply?
The Castle Doctrine can only apply when an intruder is attempting to enter or is already within a residence. For example, if someone were to threaten you with a deadly weapon outside your home, the Castle Doctrine would not be applicable, as the Castle Doctrine only applies when someone has attempted to enter or forcibly entered another person’s residence.
That is not to say another self-defense strategy could not be used to challenge the charges against you, particularly if you used only a reasonable amount of force to protect yourself or others from the danger in question. However, the Castle Doctrine can only be applied in cases where the attempt of force or force is within a person’s residence or home.
How Is the Castle Doctrine Different from Stand Your Ground?
The major difference between California’s Stand Your Ground laws, and the Castle Doctrine is that the Castle Doctrine will only apply within a person’s residence. The Stand Your Ground law applies to your property, whether that be indoors or outdoors.
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Am I Required to Retreat on My Own Property?
The Castle Doctrine under California Penal Code 198.5 will only apply in instances where someone has attempted to enter or entered another person’s home forcibly. However, if someone is still on your property but outside of your home, you still have the authority to stand your ground in the state of California. You have the right to defend yourself with the use of force if you have a reasonable belief that your life or someone else’s life is at risk for serious bodily injury or death.
The California Jury Instructions state that a defendant cannot be found guilty if they were defending themselves or someone else against a violent criminal offense, whether the incident occurred inside or outside a residence. You have the right to defend yourself on your own property when:
- You believe that the threat of danger is imminent, or immediate
- You have a reasonable belief that the use of force was necessary to defend yourself or someone else against the imminent danger
- You used reasonable force to defend yourself as opposed to excessive force
If you have questions regarding California Stand Your Ground laws or whether the Castle Doctrine applies to your case, do not hesitate to reach out to your attorney to discuss your concerns further.
How Can You Use the Castle Doctrine to Defend Yourself?
You can use the Castle Doctrine to defend yourself against a variety of criminal charges. Anytime you have been accused of a violent crime where you were defending yourself or someone else within your home from an intruder or attempted intruder, you could utilize the Castle Doctrine to clear your name. Your attorney will review the circumstances of your case to determine whether the Castle Doctrine is a viable defense strategy.
Meet with a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help Today
You have the right to defend yourself when someone enters your home. If you are facing criminal charges related to the invasion of your home, you need a powerful legal advocate on your side.
Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss the Castle Doctrine and other potential defense options. Fill out our confidential contact form or call our office to start working on your case as soon as today.