It’s a cold and quiet night. Burglars are preparing to raid a house. A family’s worst nightmare is about to begin. Luckily, the father wakes up to the noise the bumbling thieves make. He quickly grabs his 12 gauge shotgun. As he sees the intruders, he notices that they have knives and crowbars. From a blind spot, he cocks his gun and shoots one of them in the leg. Two of them escape, while the unlucky thief is left behind squirming in pain. The mother then calls the police and medical services.
Occurrences like the one mentioned above happen in the movies more frequently. However, in real life, things may be the worse for either the family or the burglar. A lot of questions spring up. One of the questions is: “By shooting a person, did the father of the house commit a crime?” The answer to that is a resounding NO.
Here is the lone reason why the use of force is legal when defending properties.
The Castle Doctrine
The Castle Doctrine is a law which most states in the U.S. implement when cases of trespassing, burglary, and home invasions occur. It says that any property, may it be a house or a car, legally owned or occupied by a person shall be considered their turf, hence his/her “Castle.”
If a person is subject to violence, they have the option to avoid trouble if they can. The castle doctrine makes it perfectly legal for that person to use force to defend themselves against intruders and the possible danger an intruder brings. In defense of property, the use of deadly force is justifiable especially if a person shows the intent of doing bodily harm or damage to property.
In cases like the one mentioned above, The Castle Doctrine will terminate any legal responsibilities that may stem from the father shooting the thief. A lot of situations also contribute to the fact that the father did not use excessive force as evident with the burglar sustaining a wound on the leg. Clearly, the intent of the family was in self-defense which is also because the mother went on to call local police enforcement and emergency services.
In the end, a family or a person has the legal right to defend his/her property. The use of excessive force may be necessary only if the situation calls for it. As for criminal charges, the Castle Doctrine exempts any person from being held liable for the sole purpose of self-defense.