Monday, February 28, 2011

Republicans Work to Advance "Castle Doctrine"

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are working to advance legislation that would expand protections for individuals who use deadly force in threatening situations. Senate Bill 34, which is loosely referred to as the "Castle Doctrine," is currently being debated in the NC Senate and, if passed, will be sent to the House for consideration.

Republicans are pushing for passage of the law because they want to provide legal cover for individuals who use deadly force to defend themselves. Senator Andrew Brock (R - Mocksville) is the primary sponsor of the bill. The legislation receives its nickname from the notion that "a man's home is his castle and he has a right to defend it."

In essence, the Castle Doctrine would make it so lawful occupants of homes, businesses, and automobiles are presumed to be in fear of their life and justified in using deadly force against a person who is illegally breaking into a building or car. Therefore, the burden of proof would be shifted to the prosecutor instead of the victim in proving whether or not it was an act of self defense.

The legislation would also limit the "duty to retreat," making it so crime victims may stand their ground and use deadly force when they are being threatened.