What is the Castle Doctrine?

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You may have heard the term castle doctrine before, but what does it mean and where does it actually apply? This doctrine does not give New Jersey residents full permission to harm people and claim that it is self-defense. It can be used as a part of a defensive strategy when you are facing criminal charges though. Here’s what you need to know about castle doctrine and how a Bergen County criminal defense lawyer can help you out of a complicated situation.

Where Does Castle Doctrine Apply?

In New Jersey, castle doctrine only applies in your home. You are allowed to defend yourself and your loved ones with force, even deadly force, if someone has entered your home without permission. So if a trespasser comes into your home and will not leave, even after being warned, a resident can shoot them.

It is important to note that this doctrine applies in your home and that your actions may no longer be defensible when you leave your property. For example, if you shoot at an intruder and harm them, they might leave. If you follow that intruder off of your property and continue to attack them, castle doctrine does not apply.

Is There a Duty to Retreat Under Castle Doctrine?

In most situations where violence seems imminent, a person has a “duty to retreat.” This means that, if possible, their first action should be getting out of the area and away from the danger. Only when they cannot escape are they allowed to use force to defend themselves.

There is no duty to retreat when you are in your own home. You do not have to try and leave or run away before using force against an intruder.

Is Castle Doctrine the Same as Stand Your Ground Laws?

Castle doctrine is similar to “stand your ground” laws in that it gives you license to defend yourself. However, stand your ground laws can also apply in public places in states where such laws have been passed. New Jersey does not have such a law in place.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Even if this is a clear case of self-defense, you may be held by the police. You could be charged with crimes. Then the cops are going to want to talk to you. They just want your side of the story, so what’s the harm in giving that to them?

Do not talk to the police. Instead, ask for a lawyer. An attorney can communicate on your behalf and prevent you from incriminating yourself. They can also help you employ a defensive strategy, one involving the castle doctrine for example.

Contact Our Law Firm

If you are facing criminal charges, contact the Law Office of Boyd & Squitieri. We can schedule a consultation and take a closer look at your case. If we can help you defend yourself, we will do everything that we can to advocate on your behalf.