What is “the Castle Doctrine?”

While you likely never anticipate being in a situation that could potentially result in you facing criminal charges in North Carolina, you also recognize that scenarios exist where you feel compelled to use force against another. Such situations almost certainly involve threats to your safety or that of your family.

You probably assume that it is within your rights to act in self-defense. While that assumption may prove true, the law does limit the extent to which you can respond in this regard. Thus, knowing exactly what that extent is may be essential in you defending yourself from accusations of assault.

“The Castle Doctrine” vs. “Stand Your Ground”

Most of the self-defense laws in place throughout the country find their roots in two distinct legal philosophies: “Stand Your Ground” or “the Castle Doctrine.” According to the principle of “Stand Your Ground,” you have no duty to retreat from any situation in which you feel threatened. “The Castle Doctrine” limits those situations where you have no duty to retreat to confrontations in places where you have a legal entitlement to be.

Per Section 14-51.2 of North Carolina’s General Statutes, the state subscribes to the latter philosophy. Indeed, the law states that a reasonable fear of you or your loved ones suffering death or a serious injury is only assumed if one either attempts to enter your home, personal vehicle or place of business unlawfully, tries to forcefully remove you (or another) from any of those aforementioned places, or you have reason to believe an unlawful entry into one of those places occurred.

Exceptions to the state’s self-defense statute

The law does limit your exercise of self-defense. For example, you cannot act forcefully against one entering into a place where they are legally entitled to be, nor can you act against a peace officer performing their assigned duties.