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How does the castle doctrine affect criminal defense?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

California law gives people significant leeway when it comes to defending themselves against a home invasion. These laws are often called Castle laws, drawing on the idea that a person’s home is their castle and they have a right to defend it and themselves when inside it.

How a home invasion affects defense

In California, criminal defense laws that apply when there’s an intruder in the home are different than self-defense laws outside the home. If you are involved in a physical altercation with another individual, you may be able to claim that you feared for your safety. But if someone breaks into your home, it’s assumed that you, as the resident of the home, feared death or bodily harm. Additionally, when an intruder enters someone’s home, the homeowner isn’t required to retreat from the intruder even when this is an option. Additionally, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant, the homeowner in this case, didn’t have a reason to fear death or serious physical injury when there’s an intruder.

Other instances of justifiable homicide

If someone enters your home and you commit homicide in self-defense, it’s often considered legally justifiable. But there are other times when homicide might be deemed legally justified. For instance, sometimes you can defend yourself if you’ve taken genuine steps to disengage from the attacker.

Anyone trying to understand the instances in which homicide might be justifiable as self-defense can look into sections 197 and 199 in the California Penal Code to learn more.