Breaking Down the Elements of the Castle Doctrine

The Castle Law of North Carolina, signed in 2012, considers the use of deadly force as justified primarily if there is imminent and pressing danger upon the person’s life and property. It’s not simply a matter of being threatened by the intruder, however. The intent to inflict harm must be actualized by the perpetrator’s unlawful entry into the home, the workplace or even the car.

The Castle Law is founded on the premise that a man has a right to defend his own abode – his castle – at all costs. Especially if there is a clear intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence, then the property owner should be justified in using all means possible – including deadly force – to defend himself.

There are, however, limitations to the application of this doctrine. Apart from the requirements that the perpetrator is trying to, or has illegally gained, entrance to the property, and that there must be clear intent to do harm by violent means, actual presence of threat must be proven.


A criminal looking through the car window, or simply walking around the property, therefore, do not constitute a justification for the application of the Castle Law. Inflicting deadly force upon a criminal fleeing the scene will also not be covered by the doctrine.

A Raleigh criminal lawyer should be able to give you the correct information on this doctrine. There is a very thin line between justified self-defense and plain homicide, so you might as well know the difference.


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