A castle doctrine is a self-defense law that states that a person’s home (sometimes also a place of work or vehicle) is a place that grants one protections and immunities from prosecution in certain circumstance to use force or deadly force to defend oneself against an intruder. There is no duty to retreat from the situation in one’s home (or workplace or vehicle if applicable) before using force, but there may be a duty to retreat in a public place.
The United States has two additional self-defense laws. The “Stand Your Ground” Law states that there is no duty to retreat from the situation before using deadly force, and is not limited to one’s home, place of work, or vehicle. The “Duty to Retreat” Law states that one cannot harm another in self-defense when it is possible to retreat from a threatening situation to a place of safety.
Castle doctrines can vary slightly from state-to-state, with some states narrowing your right to use deadly force against an intruder. For example, in some states, you must provide evidence that an intruder was attempting to commit a felony. In other states, it is limited to only when a person is in his or her vehicle.
North Carolina has a broad version of the castle doctrine. It states that a person who “unlawfully and forcibly” enters one’s home, workplace, or car is presumed to intend violence and to harm, and therefore it is easy to establish self-defense.
Illinois’s version of the castle doctrine has more restrictions. The castle doctrine for Illinois does not include one’s workplace or vehicle. Additionally, one is only allowed to use deadly force if an intruder is committing a felony or enters the home in a “violent, riotous or tumultuous manner.”