California’s “Castle Doctrine” (also known as the “Stand Your Ground” policy) refers to Section 198.5 of the California Penal Code. Technically, California is not a “Stand Your Ground” state, though its Castle Doctrine is a nearly identical policy. The difference here is that the policy generally protects a person while he is in his home, or “castle,” which also extends to his workplace or other real property belonging to him.
Different states have Castle Doctrines as well, however the rules involved with each state’s Castle Doctrine differ, depending on the state.
The Castle Doctrine
California’s Castle Doctrine states that you are within your right to use deadly force in your own home if you reasonably believe that you are in grave danger. For instance, if an armed robber forces his way into your home and points a gun at you, you are permitted under the Castle Doctrine to use deadly force, by way of a gun or other means, to protect yourself, your family, and your home.
However, just because you are allowed to use this as a defense under the law does not necessarily mean a jury will see it that way. If you are the defendant in a court case, and you want to use the Castle Doctrine as a defense, one of our experienced lawyers can help.
Self-Defense While Not At Home
Suppose you’re at work when someone puts you in a situation wherein you feel reasonably threatened to the point of using deadly force. What then? California law would then classify this kind of situation as “justifiable homicide.” This means that a jury is to find you innocent of the crimes of assault, homicide, or other similar charges if:
- You reasonably believed there was a possibility that you could be hurt or killed; and
- You reasonably believed that the only way to stop this from happening was to use force against the other person; and
- You did not use more force than necessary to put a stop to the threat.
That last point is key. If a person broke into your home but was unarmed, and you shot and killed that person, this would be an example of using way more force than necessary to stop the threat. If, however, the person pointed a gun at you, as in the earlier example, then your shooting that person would be justified under the Castle Doctrine.
You are also not required, under California law, to run away from a dangerous situation before you attempt to defend yourself. Some states argue that you should try to escape the situation or “retreat,” but California is no one of those states. In California, you would still be protected under the law if you chased your attacker, so long as you were acting in such a way as to neutralize the threat.
Self-Defense As A Legal Defense
There are a number of crimes in which self-defense may be considered a legitimate defense. These crimes can include:
A conviction for any of these crimes can have serious consequences for your life and future. In California, the defendant does not have raise a “stand your ground” defense. The judge is responsible for instructing the jury to consider whether you did, in fact, “stand your ground” when you took action. However, if the judge does not make this recommendation, and if the jury is unaware of it, then you may be facing a lengthy jail sentence, along with other serious consequences.
If you were the aggressor, then you lose all protections under the Castle Doctrine. As long as you were not the first to strike, our lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group can help you build a case for self-defense. Even if you were mistaken in your belief that your life was in danger, so long as you reasonably believed you were in danger, the jury can acquit you of all charges.
Are You Facing Charges For “Standing Your Ground”? Call Us Now!
If you believed you were in grave danger, and you used deadly force to stop the threat, you may still be charged with a crime. These crimes are serious, and you should not attempt to fight them by yourself. Our criminal defense lawyers have helped juries understand how certain situations required individuals to act in self-defense to protect themselves, their homes, and their families.
Fill out the form to the right or give us a call at (310) 997-4688 to speak with one of the Simmrin Law Group’s skilled criminal defense lawyers. Our lawyers offer a free consultation, with no obligation to retain them. Let us review your case and help you make the best decision for your future.