Tag Archives: Castle Doctrine

What is the Castle Doctrine?

The Castle Doctrine was a common-law legal defense that said that a man’s home is his castle.  This meant that you had the right to use deadly force in defending your “castle.”  However, you were then open to a civil wrongful death suit by the family of the robber that you used deadly force on when he invaded your castle.  You also had a duty to retreat if you could safely do so before using deadly force.  Even in your own home.

In 2006, the Mississippi Legislature, following Florida’s lead, codified the Castle Doctrine into law.  It is Mississippi Statute 97-3-15, and it states in part that:

(1)  The killing of a human being by the act, procurement or omission of another shall be justifiable in the following cases:

(e) When committed by any person in resisting any attempt unlawfully to kill such person or to commit any felony upon him, or upon or in any dwelling, in any occupied vehicle, in any place of business, in any place of employment or in the immediate premises thereof in which such person shall be;

(3)  A person who uses defensive force shall be presumed to have reasonably feared imminent death or great bodily harm, or the commission of a felony upon him or another or upon his dwelling, or against a vehicle which he was occupying, or against his business or place of employment or the immediate premises of such business or place of employment, if the person against whom the defensive force was used, was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, occupied vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if that person had unlawfully removed or was attempting to unlawfully remove another against the other person’s will from that dwelling, occupied vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof and the person who used defensive force knew or had reason to believe that the forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred. This presumption shall not apply if the person against whom defensive force was used has a right to be in or is a lawful resident or owner of the dwelling, vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or is the lawful resident or owner of the dwelling, vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if the person who uses defensive force is engaged in unlawful activity or if the person is a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his official duties;

(4)  A person who is not the initial aggressor and is not engaged in unlawful activity shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force under subsection (1) (e) or (f) of this section if the person is in a place where the person has a right to be, and no finder of fact shall be permitted to consider the person’s failure to retreat as evidence that the person’s use of force was unnecessary, excessive or unreasonable.

(5) (a)  The presumptions contained in subsection (3) of this section shall apply in civil cases in which self-defense or defense of another is claimed as a defense.

(b) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant acted in accordance with subsection (1) (e) or (f) of this section. A defendant who has previously been adjudicated “not guilty” of any crime by reason of subsection (1) (e) or (f) of this section shall be immune from any civil action for damages arising from same conduct.

The “new” Castle Doctrine law also added civil immunity when you used deadly force within your house or motor vehicle.  This means that if you are forced to shoot someone that is breaking in your house, you cannot be then sued civilly by his family.  The law also removed the duty to retreat before using deadly force.  You no longer have to prove that you retreated, from your own house, before you can lawfully use deadly force in protecting yourself and your family from imminent harm.

Now, it’s not completely clear as to where your “Castle” begins.  Obviously, if you are in your house, it most likely applies.  But if you see someone walking across your property and they aren’t threatening you in any manner, it probably won’t apply to that.

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