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Understanding the Castle Doctrine: Your Right to Stand Your Ground

The laws surrounding your right to defend yourself, especially in your own home, can be quite confusing. What are your rights to protect yourself? Are you ever justified in using deadly force?

States have different laws surrounding self-defense and the use of deadly force. It is important to be aware of North Carolina’s law so you can understand your rights and responsibilities. Here, we discuss your right to stand your ground in North Carolina, otherwise known as the “Castle Doctrine.”

What Is the Castle Doctrine?

In North Carolina, you have the legal right to defend yourself with deadly force in your home, vehicle or workplace without having a duty to retreat. This law is commonly referred to as a “stand your ground” law or the “Castle Doctrine” because it allows you to defend yourself when you are in your “castle,” which, traditionally, meant your home. The law was expanded to include not only your home but also your vehicle and your workplace, which are also considered to be intimate personal spaces.

Under the Castle Doctrine, so long as the person against whom you used force was an unlawful intruder or was attempting to forcibly and unlawfully enter your home, vehicle or workplace, you are justified in using force, including deadly force, to defend yourself.

There are, however, a couple of exceptions to this law. You cannot use deadly force in self-defense against a law enforcement officer or a bondsman who was performing his official duties and identified himself (or if you reasonably should have known he was a law enforcement officer or bondsman).

North Carolina is one of about half the states in this country that has a version of the Castle Doctrine. In states that do nothave the Castle Doctrine, you must retreat before using force against an attacker, even in your own home. Additionally, in those states, you are allowed to use only reasonable force to defend yourself, which generally means using like force against like force (for example, you cannot use deadly force in response to a punch in the stomach). In these states, unlike North Carolina, you would not be justified in using deadly force to respond to non-deadly force, even in your own home.

Protect Your Home; Protect Your Rights

North Carolina recognizes the importance of your right to defend yourself and your family from imminent harm, especially in your own home. Hopefully, you will never be faced with a situation where you will need to resort to force or even deadly force to protect yourself, but knowing that you can stand your ground in North Carolina if you need to should give you some peace of mind.

Reach out to us if you have questions.

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