Civitas Review

How does NC's version of the Castle Doctrine compare?

By | Posted in Public Safety |

Plenty of states, including North Carolina, have laws that give citizens the right to use deadly force against intruders that invade their homes or other property. This concept–the Castle Doctrine– protects your right to protect your own "castle."

Though NC does have some Castle Doctrine protection,  currently the mix of common and statutory law leaves too much gray area that can leave crime victims who protect themselves in a legal mess.  Florida's Castle Doctrine is written with less ambiguity and gives citizens more freedom to defend themselves in the event of an attack or intrusion.

Here is a quick comparison of how North Carolina measures up to Florida when it comes to Castle Doctrine protections.

  • Duty to retreat– In Florida a person who is attacked has a right to meet force with force, whether they are attacked in their home or a public place. In North Carolina you have a right to use force in the case of an attack or intrusion into your home, but there a duty to retreat if the attack occurs outside of your home like in a car or in public.
  • Presumption of intent to commit a felony or violence and fear of death or serious injury– In Florida there is a legal presumption that an intruder or attacker entering a home has the intent to commit a felony and that the victim has a reasonable fear of death or injury. In North Carolina, occupants must prove that they had a reason to believe the intruder planned to commit a felony and that they feared that the intruder was going to harm them physically.
  • Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability – If a question about whether force used was justifiable arises in Florida, the burden is on the state to prove that force was excessive. In North Carolina the victim of a crime must prove that the force they used was justified.

The most recent attempt to update the North Carolina Castle Doctrine, SB928, passed the state Senate but failed to make it out of committee in the House.  Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie, Rowan), a co-sponsor of the bill, says that it  would have given an individual "a right to defend themselves if they [felt] that their life [was] in danger." The bill would have expanded Castle Doctrine protection to include vehicles.

Legislation to clarify and strengthen the Castle Doctrine in NC is a realistic plan to include more rights for citizens who want to defend themselves.

Police officers cannot be in all places at all times. Expanding the law would not mitigate duties of officers. Rather it would provide supplemental support in rare, extreme cases. With tight budgets, law enforcement could be  subject to scrutiny and funding cuts like any other government agency.

North Carolinian's should have a right to protect themselves and others should a public attack like the one in Tuscon, Arizona ever happen in NC.

16 Comments on this post

  • Steven says:
    Jan 26 at 08:15

    I agree. The law needs to be clarified. It would even make it clearer to those who would be perpetrators that they could put themselves in harm's way by choosing aggression.

  • Hacksaw says:
    Jan 26 at 08:39

    Why as the "victim" of a crime must I prove that my force to defend myself was justified??? If that were even remotely the case in colonial america we would not be free. We have the inaleinable right to defend our freedom and ourselves, granted by our creator.

  • Karen says:
    Jan 26 at 20:48

    Thank you for covering this issue. North Carolinians need to pressure Republicans, now that they have the majority in both chambers, to strengthen our right to self-protection using deadly force when needed without fear of criminal prosecution or civil liability.

  • Robert R. Cuminale says:
    Jan 27 at 00:02

    BY all means I should have the right to defend myself and my family without wasting unnecessary time debating whether the person confronting me represents a clear and present danger. I shouldn't have to pay a lawyer to defend me in making that point.

  • Larry Wright says:
    Mar 10 at 13:08

    The late Popcorn Sutton had a sign in his store that said "Me and My Shotgun Guard this Place Three Nights a Week. You Guess Which Three."

    An uninvited perp's Constitutional rights end at my threshold. Beyond that it's Larry's Law. It's absurd that I have to prove intent. He didn't break in to shine my shoes.

    This NC law must be fixed!

  • John O'Toole says:
    Sep 23 at 10:59

    HB 650 goes into effect on Dec. 1, 2011. Section 1 (14-51.2) strengthens the Castle Doctrine to include Car and Business. Section 2 (14-51.3)removes the duty to retreat in any place the intended victim has a legal right to be.

  • Concerned Citizen says:
    Nov 11 at 01:01

    There is far to many loop holes for the "Bad Guys" as far as I am concerned.
    If my door is shut, you invade my private property uninvited, I automatically will assume you are here for no good reason. I also think it is reasonably safe to say that have decided to do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission……not excluding harm to anyone in thier way. My property is protected by loaded guns, and I will use them!!!!!!

  • Jim says:
    Nov 20 at 23:41

    This is no longer true… DUTY to RETREAT ends in NC on Dec 1, 2011… HB 650

  • Lisa Lesley says:
    Feb 07 at 11:25

    In regard to proving the attacker intended to commit a felony and that the occupant had legitimate fear of bodily harm: Victims (if they are still alive, that is) walk into a courtroom in which the "prior bad acts" of the attacker have been excluded from being presented as evidence. Thus, an attacker with multiple prior convictions for violent crimes, including rape and murder, are frequently presented in court as Christ-like figures of innocence lured by a vicious, murderous homeowner into a trap. Victims are told they cannot "take the law into their own hands" and the very law enforcement officials they pled to for protection before the attacker's final assault will testify against them.

  • rich says:
    Mar 10 at 19:03

    I personally think that "ALL STATES" should have the same gun laws to eliminate "ANY CONFUSION" as to where we stand as AMERICANS. I personally will take for granted that anyone invading my home is armed and will be shot on sight and by the time the cops get there he will have a weapon in his hand whether he had one upon entry or not. "COME ON IN PROTECTED BY SMITH AND WESSON" AND MY UNREGISTERED CHEAP ASS 22 WILL BE IN HIS HAND".So I wonder if America will ever wake up and let us defend our families and property!!!!!!

  • anonymous says:
    Mar 12 at 08:37

    you cant expect someone to take the time to figure out whether or not the scumball who is breaking into their house or property is planning to shoot them or not. Theyre gonna do what they have to do to protect themselves by any means necessary….and thats how it should be

  • Thomas Goldbach says:
    Jun 25 at 10:48

    Where's common sense gone people?Does anyone really believe Travon martin was shot solely because Florida had the castle doctrine law? I doubt it he was shot because he was inflicting bodily harm (period) Zimmerman should be tried on over stepping his authority and not heeding the police warning of DO NOT PURSUE.

  • Lxx says:
    Feb 18 at 21:09

    I don't care what the law says about protecting myself in my own house. If someone enters my house without my permission, day or night, or breaks into my house while im sleeping, im shooting to kill. No questions asked. The way I, and im sure many others see it, its shoot first, ask questions later. Someone in my house while im sleeping is getting shot. Beside my night stand is a 12 gauge pump shotgun !! I wont miss !

  • Marti Gregory says:
    Jul 03 at 17:50

    Does anyone know whether citizen could be charged if the person killed were a police officer who busted down the doors while occupants were sleeping, while carrying out an authorized RAID?

  • Jim says:
    Jul 24 at 19:07

    this is no longer true HB 650 in 2011 gave FULL Castle doctrine…
    I am 100% sure as that is what they JUST taught Jun 10th at the CWP Instructors course at the Justice academy…..

  • psg says:
    Aug 01 at 10:17

    This information is seriously outdated. There have been at least two changes to the laws, as recent as July 2013.

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