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BLOG: What is the Castle Doctrine and how does it affect your personal safety?

A law commonly known as the Castle Doctrine was recently revised in the State of North Carolina.  Because of that, many people are not aware of the new provision within this law.  I recently learned of its relative obscurity, while instructing a personal defense class this past week.  So let me take this opportunity to give you some information on the North Carolina version of the Castle Doctrine. 
 
The latest revision, enacted as a state law in North Carolina on July 13, 2013, commonly known as the Castle Doctrine, actually changed what kind of force you can use when defending your home, your vehicle and your place of work.  This law specifically addresses when a person can employ deadly force against a person committing an offense against them.  First of all, the lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle or workplace is not required to retreat prior to using deadly force.  It is presumed that when a criminal forcefully and unlawfully enters or attempts to enter a home, motor vehicle or workplace, it is the intention of that criminal to commit a crime involving force or violence.
 
Now, what does the 2013 version of the Castle Doctrine define as an individual's home or workplace?  This law states that a person's home is any property with a roof, where a person lives.  This includes the immediate area round the home, known as the "curtilage".  The workplace is defined as any property with a roof used for commercial purposes.  Interestingly, this law also allows for either the home or the workplace to be a temporary or permanent facility.  In addition, the 2013 law says, very specifically, that either the home or workplace can be a tent.
 
Why does all this sound familiar, especially to those of you who are students of history?  The Castle Law Doctrine has its origin in ancient English common-law, that declared a person's home as his castle. Today in the United States, separate states have stepped forward to enact new versions of the Castle Doctrine to protect their own citizens.
 
It should be noted that North Carolina law does not allow the use of deadly force solely to protect property, or to prevent theft, or to regain stolen property.  An owner can defend his or her property using responsible and necessary force, but not deadly force. UNDERSTAND THIS: A property owner cannot shoot a thief before, during or after a theft.  The same rule prohibits deadly force to prevent injury or vandalism to property. 
 
The purpose of this article is to merely make you aware of this relatively new revision to the North Carolina law known as the Castle Doctrine.  For more information, take it upon yourself to research North Carolina General Statute 14-51.1, use of deadly force against an intruder.  Remember, ultimately it is your responsibility to be knowledgeable of all laws before taking any action.  Why?  Because for every action you take, you will have to potentially answer for that action in a court of law.  Be aware and be safe!
 
 
 
 

 

Karl de la Guerra, PPS, CLSS

Don't let the bad guys win. Karl de la Guerra is WBTV's expert on personal security. He has spent the past 36 years in the protective services industry, with experience in the U.S. military, law enforcement, and international corporate security. For more information, visit teamKDI.com.
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