What is the castle doctrine?

Protecting ourselves and our loved ones from harm is a natural instinct and something that we all would do if necessary. Our homes should be where we feel the safest, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Intruders can pose a threat to our safety and security, and the thought of someone breaking into our homes can be frightening and overwhelming. 

Fortunately, there are laws in place that will allow you to protect yourself and your family should you find yourself in this situation. 

The Castle Doctrine in Kentucky

The Castle Doctrine in Kentucky

The Castle Doctrine in Kentucky is a law that gives citizens the right to use deadly force to protect themselves, other people, and their property. This law states that if someone is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is attacked in any place they have a right to be, they do not have a duty to retreat before using defensive force.

In other words, if you are attacked or threatened with bodily harm while in your home or on your property, you may use whatever force necessary to protect yourself or another person without having to retreat first. This includes the use of deadly force if necessary. 

This only applies if the person using force is aware of or has reason to believe someone is unlawfully entering their home.

Under the Castle Doctrine, there is an assumption that any reasonable person would fear for their safety if someone were breaking into their home. Because of this presumption, any homeowner who uses force against an intruder can raise the defense that they feared for their safety or the safety of others in their home, making deadly force presumed justifiable.

However, The Castle Doctrine cannot be used as a defense if you knew or should have known that the person trying to enter your home was a peace officer carrying out their official duties.

Additionally, there is no presumption if the person you use force against is legally entitled to be on the premises or is a lawful resident of the home.

The Castle Doctrine Also Applies To Occupied Vehicles

The Castle Doctrine can also apply to occupied vehicles. If someone tries to carjack or steal your car while you’re inside, you have the right to use reasonable force to protect yourself and your property, including deadly force.

Using the Castle Doctrine As a Defense

The defense has the burden of proof to establish factual support for the Castle Doctrine. However, an unlawful entry into the home creates an assumption that the use of force was necessary to prevent death or severe harm, making it simpler for the defendant to demonstrate that they acted appropriately.

It’s crucial to understand that using the Castle Doctrine defense does not guarantee a not-guilty verdict. Once you establish that the facts fall under the Castle Doctrine, it simply shifts the burden of proof to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is not eligible for the Castle Doctrine defense (i.e., that they did not genuinely believe they were facing death or serious harm).

Make Sure You’re Allowed To Possess a Firearm

While Kentucky has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country, it is still essential to ensure that you are legally permitted to possess a firearm in your home. If you are a convicted felon, for example, you are prohibited from possessing a firearm and could face criminal charges if you use a gun to defend yourself in your home, even if someone breaks in and tries to harm or kill you.

If you are unsure about your legal status regarding owning or possessing a firearm, you should consult a lawyer or law enforcement agency for guidance.

How the Prosecution Can Challenge Your Fear or Response 

The prosecution may attempt to challenge your claim of self-defense by arguing that your fear or response was unjustified because mitigating factors should have been considered before using force. 

For example, if you saw that the person entering your house was elderly and walking with a cane, the prosecution might argue that no violence would have occurred even if you had not stopped them. Similarly, suppose you knew the person entering your house and knew they weren’t dangerous. In that case, it could be argued that there was no justification for using force against them since they hadn’t actually committed any crime.

If there are mitigating factors present that indicate that no violence would have occurred even without intervention from the defendant, any claims of self-defense will likely be rejected by the court.

Contact a Lexington Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help Asserting a Claim of Self-Defense

The Castle Doctrine is an important legal concept for anyone looking for protection against intruders on their property. But even with this law in place, it’s possible for someone to find themselves on the wrong side of criminal charges if their fear or response is deemed unjustifiable by a court of law. 

If you need help with any legal situation, we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Call Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers at (859) 569-4014.