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Is California a Castle Doctrine State

What is meant by “Castle Doctrine?” Many states (including California) may also refer to this as Castle Law or defense of habitation law. In other words, it is considered to be a legal doctrine that designates a person’s residence or domicile or a specific and legally occupied place such as a recreational vehicle (RV), houseboat, or even an automobile. When such a domicile is established, the owner and/or residents maintains the right to use force to defend oneself against an intruder and is free from legal prosecution or consequences if force was used. 

The Code

The State of California legislature established Penal Code 198.5 which stipulates: "Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred."

In a landmark case, Daluiso v. Boone, 71 Cal 2d.484, it states: "It is urged that the owner of real estate has a right to enter upon and enjoy his own property. Undoubtedly, if he can do so without a forcible disturbance of the possession of another; but the peace and good order of society require that he shall not be permitted to enter against the will of the occupant, and hence the common law right to use all necessary force has been taken away. He may be wrongfully kept out of possession, but he cannot be permitted to take the law into his own hands and redress his own wrongs. The remedy must be sought through those peaceful agencies which a civilized community provides for all its members."

Deadly Force or Justifiable Homicide

The State of California permits the use of deadly force in self-defense through judicial decisions or jury instructions. California is a Castle Doctrine state. The person using the force must have reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred and has no duty to retreat. Though California does not have a stand your ground statute, the state appellate cases have held that there is no duty to retreat before using force in public. In addition, California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) allow a jury to acquit someone based on a stand-your-ground defense.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law Group patiently await your call.

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