The last thing anyone wants is to be put in a dangerous situation where they need to defend themselves from an attacker. Unfortunately this situation does happen on rare occasions. As if this wasn’t bad enough, there are some states in the US that don’t allow people to defend themselves with any means necessary. This means that in some states, a person who may have killed someone in self defense, could actually face murder charges.
Due to this fact, a person needs to be aware of their state’s laws when it comes to self-defense, particularly stand your ground laws.
Here in California, the state does not have a stand your ground law, but it does have a Castle Doctrine. Penal Code (PC) 198.5 allows a person to use deadly force within their own home so long as certain worries arise. As long as all of the following occurs, a person is allowed to use deadly force to protect their home:
- A person broke into their home.
- The intruder was not a law enforcement officer doing their job.
- There was reasonable fear of death or injury for the homeowner or a family member.
- The occupants of the home didn’t provoke the intruder.
In those instances, a person can do whatever they need to in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm.
Self-Defense While Out
The problem with PC 198.5 is that it only applies when a person is in their own home. It doesn’t give a person the right to defend themselves while out in public. This is where stand your ground laws come into play in other states. These laws grant a person the ability to do what they feel they need to in times of distress in order to protect themselves from an attacker.
California does not have a particular stand your ground law. However, California does recognize that there are times where a person may need to use deadly force in order to defend themselves. California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) 505 and 506 instruct jurors to find defendants innocent of crimes such as homicide or assault if the person acted reasonably under the given circumstances, specifically:
- The person reasonably believed they were in danger of being hurt or killed.
- The person reasonably believed they needed to use force to keep themselves safe.
- The person used only the amount of force necessary to protect themselves.
As long as a person followed the above, they should be found innocent.
In some states, a person needs to run away from a threat before they are legally permitted to use deadly force. That is not the case in California. As long as a person is defending themselves from threat of injury or death, they can do whatever they reasonably feel they need to in order to survive.
Stand Your Ground vs. Castle Defense
While both stand your ground laws and castle defense laws refer to a person defending themselves from an attacker, they are not exactly the same. Stand your ground laws apply wherever a person may be while castle defense only applies when a person is within their own home, or a few select places, such as their car.
No one ever wants to need to defend themselves, but the need can arise in rare instances. If a person ever finds themselves needing to protect themselves in California, they can rest easy knowing that the state will not fault them for doing whatever they felt was necessary to protect themselves during the situation.
What do you think of California’s take on stand your ground laws and castle defense? Should people be allowed to use reasonable, even deadly, force in order to defend themselves from an attacker? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.