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.
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.
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.
Defence of Person34. (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.
(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).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.