When Can You Protect Yourself In Your Home – Does the Castle Doctrine Always Apply?

A recent Springfield case has again started the age old debate of “when can a person protect themselves in their own home?”  This freedom to protect oneself in their home is more commonly known as “the castle doctrine”.  The Springfield CBS affiliate, KOLR10, recently tackled the topic in a news story where they interviewed attorney Adam Woody on the topic.

The real crux of the questions comes down to “was the action by the homeowner reasonable under the circumstances?”  If the answer is yes, then the homeowner was justified.  However, there is a lot of gray area.  For example, what if a supposed intruder is in the front yard of the home rather than attempting to immediately gain entry?  What if the intruder is merely breaking into a car in the driveway?  These are all questions to be asked and areas to be investigated and considered by police and prosecutors.  In case you encounter this situation, it is always smart to familiarize yourself with the Castle Doctrine self-defense statute, and to err on the side of caution.  Always call the police first, and use deadly force only when abundantly necessary.  You certainly have a right to defend yourself in your own home, but you also want to protect yourself from potential criminal prosecution.  Be safe!



Castle Doctrine Revision – Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody

Just last week, the Springfield ABC affiliate, KSPR, did a story featuring Springfield, Mo. criminal defense attorney Adam Woody on potential revisions to the Castle Doctrine. We posted a previous blog article regarding the Castle Doctrine in Missouri on July 16, 2014.  The Missouri Legislature is yet again hoping to expand upon the provisions of the Castle Doctrine, adding others who may use deadly force.  Currently, the homeowner or vehicle owner can use deadly force to protect against a person who is attempting to unlawfully enter.  The current revision to the law is aiming to allow people who are not necessarily the home owner, but anyone else who is legally there, to use deadly force against another.

Although protecting the home is a critically important liberty in a freedom seeking country, we have to be mindful that this could be a slippery slope.  It seems every year we are allowing the use of deadly force in more and more situations.  This could tend to create confusion, even with generally law abiding people, as to when deadly force may or may not be used.  It is sad to say that we are seeing an increased amount of gun violence on the streets of Springfield, perhaps due in part to people not understanding how or in what circumstances a weapon can be used in defense.

Our advice is that when you have a weapon in your home or vehicle, be aware of the laws governing self-defense, justification, and the Castle Doctrine, and have a thorough understanding of how those principles are applied in Missouri.  It could certainly keep you from being caught on the wrong side of the law.

Castle Doctrine – Adam Woody on Self-Defense in Missouri

Adam Woody was featured on the Springfield, Mo. CBS affiliate KOLR10 to discuss the “castle doctrine”.

The “castle doctrine” is essentially the legal right that everyone has in Missouri to defend themselves or another person when someone comes into their home unlawfully.  The use of force in that situation can be deadly force if the person using force reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent imminent harm.  The “castle doctrine” does not just extend to a person’s home.  It can include a vehicle, a hotel room, and essentially anywhere else that person has a lawful right to be.  Historically Missouri was a “retreat state”, which means that even if someone was in their own home at the time of unlawful entry by another person, the home owner was required to do everything he or she could to remove him or herself from the situation before using force.  That changed in 2010, and the “castle doctrine” was passed into law.  Now, deadly force can be used any time someone unlawfully enters a home or vehicle.  RSMo. Section 563.031 is where the “castle doctrine” can be found in the Missouri Statutes.

Unfortunately, this is a hot topic in and around the Springfield area where home invasions are becoming more common.  There have been several home invasion shootings over the past several weeks, and when you read a headline such as this, the homeowner is going to be justified under the “castle doctrine” just about every time.  This is basically a form of self-defense, however, the aggressor does not have to be using force that is reasonable under the circumstances.  Deadly force by a home owner can be justified just about any time a person is entering a home unlawfully no matter what that person’s intentions.  Perhaps the “castle doctrine” will lead to fewer home invasions, or perhaps it will simply lead to more shootings and deaths.  Only time will tell.