Picture this scenario: It’s the night of a new moon, and a deep, almost suffocating, darkness cloaks your home and property. The air is hushed, the world at rest. Your family sleeps soundly in the beds, unaware of the intruder standing outside, veiled by the shadows of a moonless night.
CRASH! You awake to the sound of a window being shattered. Now on high alert, you shoot up from your slumber and listen for further noise. Your groggy eyes read 2:00 am on the bedside clock. Suddenly, another thud emerges from downstairs – the ominous sound of unfamiliar footsteps creaking against the floorboards. There’s no mistaking it. Someone is in your home, and that someone is up to no good. What would you do? What should you do?
In terms of self and home defense, the state of North Carolina has several laws in place to ensure the safety of its citizens. Protecting yourself and your property against danger without the threat of legal repercussions is a right granted to all residents. However, as with most laws, certain caveats apply to what is considered a lawful defense. The type of force used, the behavior of the assailant, and the area where the attack occurs are all taken into account when evaluating a self-defense claim. Understanding North Carolina’s self-defense laws and their stipulations is crucial for an individual to effectively protect themselves and their loved ones from a precarious situation.
STAND YOUR GROUND
You have a right to defend yourself without retreating. Under sections 14 – 51.3 of the NCGS, North Carolina citizens have a right to defend themselves against an attacker and use deadly force in cases where such force is deemed necessary for their safety. Because North Carolina is a “stand your ground” state, the victim does not have a duty to retreat before inflicting force upon the assailant. However, several caveats apply to the use of deadly force. For instance, a single slap or punch from an attacker cannot be counteracted by a fatal blow from the victim. Essentially, the level of self-defense must match the level of force inflicted.
GUARD YOUR PROPERTY
Your home is a haven for you and your family. You have a right to protect it when it’s under siege. The state of North Carolina abides by what is known as the “castle doctrine.” Essentially, an individual’s property (ie. residence, vehicle, or business) is viewed as their “castle,” which they have a right to defend with deadly force. Under this statute, a property owner can legally use fatal tactics to protect their home from an intruder. However, the definition of an “intruder” has a few stipulations. Policemen, landlords, and bail bondsmen, for instance, are allowed to enter an individual’s home provided they clearly identify themselves and possess the legal paperwork and access to do so. In these cases, the Castle Doctrine cannot be used as grounds for defense against the listed parties.
In both instances, standing your ground or the castle doctrine, the use of deadly force is no longer justified if the assailant ceases their threatening behavior or retreats. For more information, the legal clause on North Carolina Self-Defense laws can be found here.
In essence, citizens of North Carolina have full right to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property from an attacker without fearing legal repercussions. Researching and gaining a more thorough understanding of our state’s self-defense laws helps ensure the safety of both the individual and those around them. Stay strong, stay informed.
HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS? CALL THE GROSS LAW GROUP TODAY
When determining whether an individual acted in self-defense, a variety of factors are taken into account. If you’ve been charged with assault and believe you were lawfully protecting yourself or loved ones, call a criminal defense lawyer in Wilmington, NC who can ensure your rights are protected.
Choose The Gross Law Group led by Attorney David K. Gross for expert criminal defense. Protect your future with personalized attention and aggressive representation. Trust a former police officer and experienced legal advocate to defend your rights. Contact us now. 910.666.0693