Castle Doctrine & Stand Your Ground

Posted: May 27, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

A number of states in the US have either Castle Doctrine, Stand Your Ground, or both. Castle Doctrine is derived from English Common Law, that a man’s home is his castle. You have every right to defend yourself in your home and no duty to retreat in the face of danger. Stand Your Ground extends that principle to outside your residence. If threatened in public, you have the right to defend yourself and no duty to retreat. There are 18 States with Castle Doctrine, 1 State with Stand Your Ground, and 12 States with both. In total, there are 31 States with some form of Castle Doctrine and/or Stand Your Ground.

Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Map

Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Map

Unfortunately in Canada we don’t have that luxury. To the best of my knowledge, no Canadian province has either Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground. Furthermore, Canadians have no property rights. Add to that the notion that self-defence in this nation is excessively vague. Under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian constitution, Canadians have the right “life, liberty and security of the person.” Self-defence is not explicitly stated as a right.

This has resulted in numerous cases of law-abiding citizens defending themselves or their properties and facing criminal charges as a result. Brian Knight was Albertan farmer who shot a thief who stole his ATV. He faces 7 criminal charges. The thief got 1 month in jail.

Or how about David Chen, who was arrested and had 4 criminal charges laid against him for apprehending a career shoplifter. The police even made a plea bargain deal with the shoplifter so they could use him as a witness against Mr. Chen.

There is hope though. In 1995, James Morrow was in his apartment 30 ft above ground at night when David O’Donnell broke into it. The intruder who was drunk, screaming,  wearing biker clothes, and threatening to kill Mr. Morrow with a gun. Mr. O’Donnell smashed through Mr. Morrow’s door which had three locks on it. Mr. Morrow’s only escape option was through the same front door Mr. O’Donnell was coming through. When Mr. O’Donnell charged down the hall only several feet away from Mr. Morrow, he was fatally shot. Mr. Morrow was then arrested and charged with murder. The charges were reduced but it took 2 1/2 years to get to trial.

During the brief trial, Justice Colin McKinnon scathed the prosecutor. Here are some excerpts.

“He’s having his life threatened,” said Judge McKinnon. “What are you going to do, jump off the balcony?”

Then Judge McKinnon asked Ms. Parfett whether she would have shot the intruder, Mr. O’Donnell.

Ms. Parfett said she would not shoot the intruder.

“Then Ms. Parfett, we would have been attending your funeral,” said Judge McKinnon. “The answer is so obvious.”

Ms. Parfett said Mr. Morrow didn’t know the intruder had a gun. Judge McKinnon shot back: “Are you serious with that submission?’He (the intruder) is drunk, he is screaming, he says he has a gun,” said Judge McKinnon. “What is he to do?”

Citing the old English common law that your home is your castle, the judge said there is no requirement for a citizen to retreat from attackers in the home. “The accused acted reasonably in these circumstances.” Though there was no jury in the case, he said a jury could not reasonably convict Mr. Morrow, and dismissed the charges.

In 2007, police in Laval, Quebec raided a man’s home. Basil Parasiris, his wife and two children, were sleeping in their home when they were suddenly awoken. Mr. Parasiris believed his home was being attacked by home invaders. He shot back with a .357 magnum revolver. Unfortunately, one police officer was killed and another was wounded. Mr. Parasiris was latter acquitted of all charges by a jury, even though the jury at the time didn’t know that the police raid had been deemed illegal.

In October of 2008, two armed robbers attempted to rob Dennis Galloway’s jewelry store. His wife was in the store at the time and they threatened her by pointing a gun at her head. He used a Beretta 9mm to shoot at them, wounding one twice. The police never charged him and he received a bravery award from the Canadian Association of Self-Defence.

And it’s not just in Canada that you have these problems. There are many cases in the UK for example. A knife wielding burglar who broke into Munir Hussain’s home and threatened his family got off without charges while Mr. Hussain was sentenced to two and a half years and the burglar was sent free.

Or how about Myleene Klass, who when confronted with an intruder  outside her kitchen window, scared him off by brandishing a kitchen knife. She had a two-year old daughter in the house but when the police arrived, they weren’t so much concerned with the criminal as they were with her actions. Her agent said that “when the police explained to her that even if you’re at home alone and you have an intruder, you are not allowed to protect yourself, she was bemused.” I wonder why.

Then there’s the infamous case about Tony Martin who was sentenced to 5 years for defending his farm house with a shotgun against two intruders in the middle of the night. As well, Omari Roberts was charged with murder for defending his mother from a knife wielding burglar. Those charges were just recently dropped.

The citizens of Canada, the United Kingdom, and much of the world desperately need greater legal protection for self-defence.

Update:

I posted this on CanadianGunNutz as there are far more knowledgeable individuals there than I. It was brought to my attention that Michigan is also a SYG state. I’ve made those corrections to the map as well as making the State abbreviations more legible. There was some discussion about whether my assertion that Canada doesn’t have Castle Doctrine is true or not. I will post Section 34 and 35 of the Criminal Code of Canada here.

34. (1) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.

Extent of justification

(2) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted and who causes death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault is justified if

(a) he causes it under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence with which the assault was originally made or with which the assailant pursues his purposes; and
(b) he believes, on reasonable grounds, that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 34; 1992, c. 1, s. 60(F).

Self-defence in case of aggression

35. Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if
(a) he uses the force

(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and

(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;

(b) he did not, at any time before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose, endeavour to cause death or grievous bodily harm; and
(c) he declined further conflict and quitted or retreated from it as far as it was feasible to do so before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose.
It’s my opinion, but I believe Section 34-2 (b) and Section 35 (c) require an individual to retreat if it is an option. The primary basis of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground is that there is no duty to retreat. I still believe my initial assertion that Canada does not have either Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground still remains valid.
Comments
  1. Philanthropist says:

    Victimization by criminals should be against our Charter Rights and the ‘justice’ system should recognize that.

  2. cgnnightmare says:

    It is already against our Charter Rights. The “Legal” system seems to not want to recognize and uphold s. 7.

  3. seeksimagery says:

    Good post, we need to convey the message of Self Defense and Self Defense with Firearms to general public. A lot of Gun Neutral people still think it is completely illegal to defend yourself with a gun they were shocked when I proved them otherwise and while they weren’t running out and buying a shotgun they definitely agreed.

  4. joe says:

    The state of Rhode Island have a bona fide SYG statue;

    TITLE 11
    Criminal Offenses
    CHAPTER 11-8
    Burglary and Breaking and Entering
    SECTION 11-8-8

    § 11-8-8 Injury or death – Defense. – In the event that any person shall die or shall sustain a personal injury in any way or for any cause while in the commission of any criminal offense enumerated in §§ 11-8-2 – 11-8-6, it shall be rebuttably presumed as a matter of law in any civil or criminal proceeding that the owner, tenant, or occupier of the place where the offense was committed acted by reasonable means in self-defense and in the reasonable belief that the person engaged in the criminal offense was about to inflict great bodily harm or death upon that person or any other individual lawfully in the place where the criminal offense was committed. There shall be no duty on the part of an owner, tenant, or occupier to retreat from any person engaged in the commission of any criminal offense enumerated in §§ 11-8-2 – 11-8-6.

    • RIGuy says:

      Unfortunately Joe, you are not correct about RI having a SYG statute. 11-8-8 is RI’s Castle Doctrine. It only applies when you are in a building, if you are being carjacked you are SOL. How do I know that? Look at the above referenced 11-8-2 to 11-8-6, they all deal with breaking and entering. RI, being as liberal is it is, is lucky to have the Castle Doctrine at all. We won’t even be a SYG state. Oddly enough look at 11-8-6 “Entry to steal poultry”. If someone breaks into your chicken coop to steal your prized rooster you can shoot them. If a gang banger carjacks you and threatens your wife and kids while doing so, you just have to sit there and take it. Gotta love RI!

  5. Mark Deem says:

    I believe Virginia, just as WV and Ohio recently did, must pass a sold, sraight forth and plainly worded CASTLE LAW which is a right of a property owner to protect himself and family from ANYONE who breaks into their home, automobile or place of business. Sure, we can buy the guns, but if we can’t use them to protect ourself, what good is that.
    I can’t believe our Virginia law makers give criminals the leadway to break into a person’s home! What’s the real reason not to pass the CASTLE LAW in Virginia??? Is it the old saying “let the police handle it?” In most cases there’s no time to wait for the police. As for me, I’m going to push local law makers by emailing them AND if nothing is passed, vote accordingly. I believe there’s many more Virginia folks who think the same and who will stand with me on this. Everyone in Virginia is aware crime has gotten worse over the past 20 to 30 years..(like the shootings in schools) We all, as citizens should demand the CASTLE law be passed here in Virginia, without delay.

  6. […] by States As of the 28th of May, 2010, 31 States have some form of Castle Doctrine and/or Stand Your Ground law. Alabama,[9] Alaska, Arizona, […]

  7. […] many states in the US, citizens can defend themselves with impunity from prosecution. They can also carry guns for self-defence. Maybe we […]

  8. Smitty says:

    If you produced that map, maybe try a little research before hand?

    “California (California Penal Code § 198.5 sets forth that unlawful, forcible entry into one’s residence by someone not a member of the household creates the presumption that the resident held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury should he or she use deadly force against the intruder. This would make the homicide justifiable under CPC § 197. CALCRIM 506 gives the instruction, ‘A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger … has passed.’ ”

    There’s also quite a few other states you’ve mislabeled.

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  10. Ryan says:

    Although isn’t written in the CCC, there is much case law on “Home as Castle” in Canada.

    R. v. Abdalla, 2006 BCCA 210
    R. v. Proulx, 1998 CanLII 6317
    R. v. Jack (1994), 91 C.C.C. (3d) 466 (B.C.C.A.)
    R. v. Irwin (1994), 49 B.C.A.C. 143
    R. v. Jack, 1994 CanLII 1649

    These are just a few of the cases that support the home as castle doctrine.

    The issue in the jeweler case isn’t a clear home as castle case. The issue was that the guy fired 10 rounds, at fleeing people, who didn’t have anything he owned. He was justified in shotting the robbers in the first place. I think it’s questionable that he kept firing, through a window no less, after the robbers started to flee.

    The main issue that police had a problem with was how her fired 10 rounds, some of which went through a window and into the street. You have a right to defend you home, but you also need to take steps to make sure you don’t kill someone walking down the street.

  11. Ryan says:

    And you missed the point of the Hussain case as well. Had Hussian attacked and even killed the person inside of his house, he likely would be been okay. But the home as castle does not extend (anywhere to my knowledge) to chasing the person into the garden, and beating him in the head with a pipe, while he laid on the ground, until you fracture his skull and leave him with brain damage.

    The home as castle doctrine means that when you are in your home, and someone commits or is likely to commit violence against you, are you allow to fight back within having to flee.

    If the threat is gone (in this case the people running out of the house) you no longer have a right of self-defense. After all, what are you deafening against?

    You would even be allow to chase the person and stop them from fleeing. But you aren’t aloud to beat them to death (or nearly to death) doing this.

  12. H says:

    Where did you find your source for the 31 states that currently do have some form of Castle Doctrine? I’m writing a paper and can’t link your blog unfortunately.

    • ezbeatz says:

      H, because Castle Doctrine are states laws, they can frequently change. That makes it hard sometimes to get an exact perspective of current laws. As well, because the laws are written differently some sources may declare a state to have castle doctrine while another may not. For example, Pennsylvania might adopt Stand Your Ground in the next few days.

      Also understand that Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground are sometimes used interchangeably but Stand Your Ground actually extends provisions of Castle Doctrine to anywhere you have a legal right to be, not just your home.

      The NRA has a map of states with Castle Doctrine.

      http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=204

      You can also check out this blog although I think you already stated you can’t link blogs.

      http://tekel.wordpress.com/2009/01/24/castle-doctrine-map-update-for-january-2009/

      Check out the castle doctrine article on wikipedia. I know it shouldn’t be cited in a paper but they usually have links to other sources.

      Hope that helps.

  13. H says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

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  15. […] According to the Post, it is legal to claim self-defense in cases such as this, but Canada does lack the U.S.-style “Castle Doctrine,” which allows citizens to defend their property with […]

  16. Paul Lewis says:

    Section 494 of the Canadian Criminal Code States : Anyone who is the owner of property or is acting as an agent for the owner of property may arrest without warrant anyone who is found committing any criminal offence on or in relation to the property.

    The code goes on to state that anyone who makes such an arrest is justified in using as much force as is reasonably necessary to complete the arrest.

    There ya go, Castle law and Stand your ground all rolled into one

  17. Travis says:

    What do you do if you r being stalked? My truck has been vandelized.my life has been threatened I feel like the police will not help. I have filed 27 reports in 9months. What do I do ? Just wait till I am dead? Could someone point me in the direction of help?

    • ezbeatz says:

      Travis, where do you live (not specifics just general like city)? If I were you I would improvise. You can look at getting one of those large maglight flashlights for self-defense. Nobody can fault you there. I’ve heard stories of police using their maglights as defensive weapons.

      Depending on how threatened you feel you might want to put a baseball bat, crowbar, sledgehammer or something in your truck. An everyday item draws less attention but can be effective in a pinch.

      I’m not going to tell you to do anything illegal but use common sense. If somebody meets you in a dark alley, that type of person is very unlikely to go to police.

  18. MAXWELL says:

    Next time you think Arrogant Americans, like so many of your nations hockeys have said to me on MY teams fb page REMEMBER! We are the land of the free and home of the brave and you cant argue that out nations democracy works better than some bs parliment. ik we have alot of douchbags and some states have no “king of the castle” law but i live in that does so go ahead, make my day. punk.

  19. MAXWELL says:

    i dont live in state where its legal to carry tho. even tho we have the “rite to bear arms” written in th US constitution. i think it literally means we have the rite to bears arms like the animals. aha, but still i dont get wtf is wrong with states that dont feel obligated to protect their homes, stuff, LIVES in the event a home invasion were to occure. thats why we all need guns.

  20. daniel hadley says:

    I live in ohio that does have the castle doctrine and I have been charged with felonious assault and denied this law when a census worker came to my home and refused to leave after being told to leave four time and then went completely nuts on me forcing his way into my home and forcing me to strike him with a bat to make him leave. The bad thing is I have discovered the man lied to be a census taker and has mental disorders that the census bureau did not catch and I’m the fifth person he has done this to while assaulting them (not related to the census). The castle doctrine only applies when the judicial system wants it to. Our sweet honest country?

  21. r000t says:

    Not sure if you have heard about this, but even with these laws, criminals end up filing suit, and winning, against homeowners. One person fell through a woman’s skylight while attempting to break in to her house, fell on a few knives, injuring himself, and he successfully won a lawsuit against the woman.

  22. Russ says:

    Proud to be from one of the dozen US states – Indiana – which has both Castle doctrine and ‘Stand your ground’ codified into law.

  23. Frey says:

    Although it isn’t referred to as “Stand your ground” or “Castle Doctrine”, the state of Delaware has both. I would appreciate it if you changed your state chart to show it.

    Statutory Law:
    Title 11
    Crimes and Criminal Procedure
    Delaware Criminal Code
    Chapter 4. Defenses to Criminal Liability
    Section 464 E,2,A states: “The defendant is not obliged to retreat in or from the defendant’s dewelling; and
    Section 464 E,2,B states: “The defendant is not obliged to retreat in or from the defendant’s place of work, unless the defendant was the initial agressor

    Section 469 states: “In the prosecution of an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring an intruder who was unlawfully in said dwelling, it shall be a defense that the occupant was in the occupant’s own dwelling at the time of the offense, and:
    (1) The encounter between the occupant and intruder was sudden and unexpected, compelling the occupant to act instantly; or
    (2) The occupant reasonably believed that the intruder would inflict personal injury upon he occupant or others in the dwelling; or
    (3) The occupant demanded that the intruder disarm or surrender, and the intruder refused to do so.

  24. Jim says:

    As of June 28, 2011, Pennsylvania is both a Castle Law and Stand Your Ground state. Gov. Corbett sign HB 40 into law. It amended Title 18 sections 501-510 to apply to property owners protecting whatever property that they have a right to occupy without first requiring them to retreat.

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  26. Alex says:

    Ok, so canada doesn’t have a “Castle Doctrine” or Stand Your Ground mandate.. How can we, as citizens, who live in a potentially violent and unpredictable world.. Change that in canada? How do we convince our government to allow the citizenry to be able to protect themselves in times of crisis?

    • Hector says:

      I believe the best course of action is to personally start an awareness campaign along with a petition (a formal letter detailing the core of your concerns, along with all the signatures collected), and then submit it to your local elected representative and senator. I would also include a well documented report on the issue along with focused and precise recommendations for the proposition of a bill, or better yet, a constitutional amendment/reform. I’m working on one myself and hope to get this going later this year. I believe a prepared citizen is a responsible citizen, and being prepared is all about having a strong, curious and critical mind. Once the mind is focused, then the rest falls into place.

      Those who think having 911 in their speed dial is enough are completely irresponsible and have no weight when voicing any criticism towards those who practice self-preservation, self-awareness and concerned citizenry.

      In the meantime, keep on prepping mind, body, spirit… and gear.

  27. […] Stand your Ground to all the States of the Redoubt.  If I understand the below map which I found Red Ensign, A Libertarian in the Frozen North correctly Idaho, Wyoming and Montana do not have Stand your Ground laws.  I found additional […]

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  29. Hector says:

    I believe CD and SYG laws are not in effect in an obvious attempt to protect law enforcement officers, and not the general public. If laws exist to protect their purported abiding citizens, then how can you justify criminals successfully suing their victims? Not only should CD and SYG be introduced into law, but should take legal precedence in court cases over any other (usually nonsensical) CC sections or jurisprudence. The trick is to craft CD and SYG laws to minimize abuse without taking away their core purpose.

    For example, I believe you should be exempt from any level of force used in a threatening scenario within your dwelling, or against any outside threat towards your dwelling in its immediate surroundings. I don’t believe you can chase down the said threat, as in “chase them down the street guns blazing,” if they are clearly running away (that’s vigilante mentality and shouldn’t be encouraged).

    I don’t care if an intruder(s) is/are shot dead or otherwise wounded within someone’s home, had only the intent to steal, and not to kill, rape or otherwise inflict bodily harm. Even if they weren’t armed. You shouldn’t have to wait to find out if they were, how lethal they were with their own hands, or what their intent was. If an intruder tries to play chicken with my shotgun, then he’ll unfortunately find out how I like my chicken cooked, and I’ll just have to explain to the judge my culinary choices.

    “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”
    – Tacitus

  30. Terrance Newman says:

    I’m a Canadian. I’m extremely concerned about the future of this country, as I can see how easy it would be for a Dictatorial government to come to power.It causes me much anguish, and utter disbelief at the strong arm tacticts of the crown prosecutors constant attack on our constitution and law abiding citizens. My fellow Canadian’s I call you to your duty to resist this Intrusion aginist your God given right to defend your self and those in your care. How long will we endure this, how long can we afford to endure this blatant attack on our Civil Liberties and Right as are enshrined in our constitution.

    It is your duty to resist this aggresion by the government. Who do they think they are by denying our rights, using the crown prosecution and the CFO to arbitrarly dismiss us like children, it makes one think that your own government does not trust us, and of course if we let them they will take our guns and rights of self defence away, then we will be in grave trouble.

    I put this before you. The crown supports the criminal and convicts you. Is this not insanity!!!!

    The Crown supports the criminal and convicts you for resisting him. Is that not insanity.

    of the governement a complete invatation to rape us, to invade our homes, to kill us, to steal what we have worked so hard for; yes my fellow canadians its open season on the Law abiding citizens of Canada”

    the government rained supreme and the criminal knows this. Can you imagine a day when are guns are gone and we are left absoultely helpless, Yes that’s right it will be open season on the “Law abiding cit

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