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calixt0
05-14-2010, 9:58 AM
I was reading around and I noticed that our very own BWeise (I think I spelled that right) mentioned California's castle doctrine. I've looked at a lot of different things including the laws and have many questions as to what can and can't be used or done as self defense in the home. I would greatly appreciate comments from those in the know as to what I can do to protect my family.

I live in Vallejo. As many of you know that Vallejo is having some very difficult financial problems. In this town of over 100,000 people I'm told we are down to as little as 6 full time officers (hasn't been confirmed) but I do know that when calls are made to 911 for break in in progress nothing happens and no officers are dispatched. So I would like to know what "rules of engagement" are in California.

I used to believe that the laws were stacked against you but with the mention of a castle doctrine in California I have again become curious.

chiselchst
05-14-2010, 10:14 AM
I got this from wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine#States_with_a_Castle_Law

California (California Penal Code 198.5 sets forth that unlawful, forcible entry into one's residence by someone not a member of the household creates the presumption that the resident held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury should he or she use deadly force against the intruder. This would make the homicide justifiable under CPC 197 [3]. CALCRIM 506 gives the instruction, "A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger ... has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating." However, it also states that "[People v. Ceballos] specifically held that burglaries which 'do not reasonably create a fear of great bodily harm' are not sufficient 'cause for exaction of human life.'” The court held that because a "trap-gun" was used, the doctrine did not apply. [4]

Cnynrat
05-14-2010, 10:21 AM
I guess it depends on what you consider to be a castle doctrine. When people talk about CA having castle doctrine they are usually referring to the law that says that if someone who is not a member of your household breaks into your home, and you have reason to believe they have broken into your home, then there is a presumption that you are in fear of your life. Of course, being in fear of your life is one of the triggers for permissible self defense.

I think this is the section of the code that deals with this issue:

Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry had occurred. Great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury. (Penal Code 198.5.)
NOTE: If the presumption is rebutted by contrary evidence, the occupant may be criminally liable for an unlawful assault or homicide.

bwiese
05-14-2010, 10:30 AM
We have a 'castle doctrine' in 198.5 PC et seq that's pretty good.

It's better than that of many 'red states' that do not have one.

Do not expect that just because of castle doctrine you'll slide easy after a shoot. That even applies in other states with stronger castle doctrines.

Bottom line: don't shoot someone in CA just because he's stealing your car or VCR.

Have articulable fear of death or bodily harm to you or yours. And while there is no duty to retreat, etc. - if the guy is leaving your house, it'd not really smell good if the entry wound is in his arse or back!

Librarian
05-14-2010, 10:51 AM
Note that "justifiable" does NOT mean 'will not be charged', it usually means 'you will have a chance to justify your actions in court'.

Doheny
05-14-2010, 10:55 AM
Good points by bwiese and Librarian. All too often things are posted here that give the impression that we'll get a slap on the back and an "attaboy" from the cops when we if we have to shoot someone inside our home.

:thumbsup:

calixt0
05-14-2010, 11:08 AM
I understand that there may be questions and problems! Correct me if I'm wrong. the law says that I don't have to retreat. If I were to be sitting in my chair with a gun in my hand and someone busts down my door. I can legally shoot them as soon as they come in? Again I understand there may be charges filed etc etc... but is the law on my side? Not that I would persue or even want to shoot someone over a vcr or car but the laws are confusing... I see places where your car is considered part of your real property just like your house. If someone breaks into my car and I order them on the ground to wait for police and they come after me can I shoot them then? all on my property mind you? Again I know there are no easy answers as what is right according to the law doesn't also translate into getting charged or even convicted.. just trying to understand things as a whole.

thanks for the replies so far

paradox
05-14-2010, 11:28 AM
I understand that there may be questions and problems! Correct me if I'm wrong. the law says that I don't have to retreat. If I were to be sitting in my chair with a gun in my hand and someone busts down my door. I can legally shoot them as soon as they come in?

yes, and it is doubtful the DA would file charges in that case.

If someone breaks into my car and I order them on the ground to wait for police and they come after me can I shoot them then? all on my property mind you?

If they come at you, then yes you can shoot, your property or not you are enacting a citizen's arrest for a felony committed in your sight. You can hold them (even at gunpoint) until the cops arrive. If they threaten your life you can respond with force. You cant shoot them in the back while you have them proned out or kick their teeth out a la 'American History X'.

With that said, an armed citizen's arrest, while legal, is generally unadvised for something as simple as burglary: things could quickly escalate out of control in any number of ways that could leave you dead, destitute, and/or in prison.

JDoe
05-14-2010, 11:58 AM
I understand that there may be questions and problems! Correct me if I'm wrong. the law says that I don't have to retreat. If I were to be sitting in my chair with a gun in my hand and someone busts down my door. I can legally shoot them as soon as they come in?

It is my understanding that if a person unlawfully and forcibly "busts" down your door and that person is not a member of your family or household that PC 198.5 would presume that you had a "reasonable fear of immenent peril of death or great bodily injury..." clearing the way for a defense of justifiable homicide under PC 197. (see code at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=187-199)

198.5. Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or
great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to
have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great
bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that
force is used against another person, not a member of the family or
household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and
forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or
had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.

197. Homicide is also justifiable when committed by any person in
any of the following cases:
1. When resisting any attempt to murder any person, or to commit a
felony, or to do some great bodily injury upon any person; or,
2. When committed in defense of habitation, property, or person,
against one who manifestly intends or endeavors, by violence or
surprise, to commit a felony, or against one who manifestly intends
and endeavors, in a violent, riotous or tumultuous manner, to enter
the habitation of another for the purpose of offering violence to any
person therein; or,
3. When committed in the lawful defense of such person, or of a
wife or husband, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant of such
person, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to
commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury, and imminent
danger of such design being accomplished; but such person, or the
person in whose behalf the defense was made, if he was the assailant
or engaged in mutual combat, must really and in good faith have
endeavored to decline any further struggle before the homicide was
committed;

It is also my understanding that if the stranger (at all times being completely non-violent) walks in through an unlocked door (no forceable entry) grabs a beer out of your cooler and sits down to watch TV with you that you can't do squat except call the police.

...If someone breaks into my car and I order them on the ground to wait for police...

This is probably legal but is not wise because the bad guy may have accomplices and so on in places you can't see just waiting to take you out. I met a guy that this happened to. His car was getting broken into, went out with a hand gun, held the only person he saw breaking in at gun point and got a bullet in his lower back from the first bad guy's accomplice that he did not see. He fully recovered but also learned a hard lesson.

...If someone breaks into my car and I order them on the ground to wait for police and they come after me can I shoot them then? all on my property mind you?

At the point where they come after you and the courts version of a reasonable person would have had reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury, it is my understanding that at that point it would be a self defense situation for you. But one that could have easily been avoided by calling the cops or allowing the bad guy to "escape."

Again I know there are no easy answers as what is right according to the law doesn't also translate into getting charged or even convicted.. just trying to understand things as a whole.

Shooting someone in self defense seems to bring with it the possibility of:


Getting arrested,
Getting charged.
Losing one's job.
Losing one's residence.
Dealing with the criminal courts.
Dealing with the civil courts.
Dealing with possible retaliation from the badguys buddies or family.
Losing one's freedom.
Losing one's 2A rights.
Losing one's security clearance.
Losing everything.
Dealing with possible emotional trauma that can cause all sorts of additional problems.
Etc.


One guy in Florida defensively shot someone and while he spent the next year in jail awaiting trial the bad guy's burned down his house and animal control euthanized his dogs.

He was found to have acted in self defense and found not guilty of all charges but he lost everything. Was it worth it for him?

ETA: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, etc.

paradox
05-14-2010, 12:06 PM
One guy in Florida defensively shot someone and while he spent the next year in jail awaiting trial the bad guy's burned down his house and animal control euthanized his dogs.

He was found to have acted in self defense and found not guilty of all charges but he lost everything. Was it worth it for him?

He's not dead.

You're only supposed to use deadly force against another if you have "reasonable fear of imminent peril of death." If it is a good shot, then deep down in the no BS zone, you thought your death is near. In that case, a year in jail, murdered pets, and poverty sounds much better than a casket.

vantec08
05-14-2010, 1:12 PM
The real Castle Doctrine extends meaning to vehicle, tent, RV, and office. It also exempts one from civil as well as criminal prosecution. Even if you slide by the DA in CA, you and your homeowners insurance would get nailed on a civil suit.

FatalKitty
05-14-2010, 2:49 PM
@jdoe - ill take a year in jail over an eternity in hell

JDoe
05-14-2010, 3:22 PM
He's not dead.

You're only supposed to use deadly force against another if you have "reasonable fear of imminent peril of death." If it is a good shot, then deep down in the no BS zone, you thought your death is near. In that case, a year in jail, murdered pets, and poverty sounds much better than a casket.

@jdoe - ill take a year in jail over an eternity in hell

Yes, of course you both are correct. Being alive is much better than being dead.

What I wanted to but failed to convey clearly is that shooting someone in self defense is a serious matter. Even if the Justice Industry finds you shot in self defense your troubles may not be over. If there is any reasonable way to avoid shooting someone, I personally would take the no shoot option.

- JDoe

Texas Boy
05-14-2010, 3:53 PM
Yes, of course you both are correct. Being alive is much better than being dead.

What I wanted to but failed to convey clearly is that shooting someone in self defense is a serious matter. Even if the Justice Industry finds you shot in self defense your troubles may not be over. If there is any reasonable way to avoid shooting someone, I personally would take the no shoot option.

- JDoe

And here is were it gets very messy. BG forcefully enters home or commits other "qualifying" act. In fear for you life, you pull gun (because there really isn't a better option). And now the complications begin:

1. You could pull and shoot - and be justified, but we have just seen what a mess that can produce.

2. Or you could yell "freeze" or some other such command. If he doesn't "freeze" how long do you wait before you shoot? Better not wait very long, or you will be dead. On the other hand, if he does "freeze" - now you are stuck holding him at gun point, and his accomplice is sneaking around to get you or a member of your family. But you can't change your mind and shoot once the first guy is defenseless and complying (or appearing to comply).

So it really comes down to this - if you have a better option than pulling out the gun, use it. If you don't, then if it was worth pulling out the gun it is probably worth pulling the trigger. But it better be worth it.

Years ago when I lived in Texas there was rarely any question (criminal or civil) over a home defense shooting. No idea if Texas is still that way, but here in CA I'd expect to spend time in both the criminal and civil courts after defending your life/family/home. Said but true.

paradox
05-14-2010, 4:17 PM
And here is were it gets very messy. BG forcefully enters home or commits other "qualifying" act. In fear for you life, you pull gun (because there really isn't a better option). And now the complications begin:

1. You could pull and shoot - and be justified, but we have just seen what a mess that can produce.

2. Or you could yell "freeze" or some other such command. If he doesn't "freeze" how long do you wait before you shoot? Better not wait very long, or you will be dead. On the other hand, if he does "freeze" - now you are stuck holding him at gun point, and his accomplice is sneaking around to get you or a member of your family. But you can't change your mind and shoot once the first guy is defenseless and complying (or appearing to comply).

So it really comes down to this - if you have a better option than pulling out the gun, use it. If you don't, then if it was worth pulling out the gun it is probably worth pulling the trigger. But it better be worth it.

Years ago when I lived in Texas there was rarely any question (criminal or civil) over a home defense shooting. No idea if Texas is still that way, but here in CA I'd expect to spend time in both the criminal and civil courts after defending your life/family/home. Said but true.

Hey, plenty of people defend themselves with firearms in California without being drug through the legal system. Some of them have shot, some have not. Honestly, if the shot was good, if you could articulate fear of death that any random person would agree with, you probably won't even be charged.

http://www.thearmedcitizen.com/category/ca/

Every situation is different. If you need to shoot, shoot without hesitation. But if you don't NEED to shoot, it is probably better to let the punk slowly walk away from your car and flee than it would be to shoot an unarmed piece of **** teenager who posed no physical threat.

Sometimes it is nice to have a compliance tool between "stop or I'll yell stop again" and 5.56NATO. Why isn't there a rail mounted Fox Mean Green pepper spray?

JDoe
05-14-2010, 4:59 PM
...So it really comes down to this - if you have a better option than pulling out the gun, use it. If you don't, then if it was worth pulling out the gun it is probably worth pulling the trigger. But it better be worth it.

Fourteen studies state an annual defensive gun use of between 764,000 and 3,600,000 with the percentage of time that the gun was fired ranging from 1% to 18% of the time.

Here http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html
and here http://www.guncite.com/kleckandgertztable1.html

Although it is often stated that you shouldn't pull a gun unless you intend to use it I would add that if the situation becomes one where lethal force is no longer required to stop a threat then firing the gun that you pulled should be avoided.

snobord99
05-14-2010, 5:29 PM
I'm going to skip all the "what if this happens" and "what if that happens" scenarios and tell you exactly what CA's castle doctrine is supposed to do. It shifts the burden of proof. That's it.

I'll use shooting someone as an example. When someone is prosecuted, it is up to the prosecution to prove that they committed the crime (shot the guy) beyond a reasonable doubt (this is the burden of proof). The defendant shooter, however, could claim that it was in self-defense. The self-defense claim is what's referred to as an "affirmative defense." When the defendant shooter raises the affirmative defense, what they're saying is "yes, I shot the guy, but I was justified in doing so." Since you admitted to shooting the guy the prosecutor no longer has to prove that fact so they no longer have the burden of proving that you shot the guy.

The burden now shifts to the defendant to prove that the shooting was justified (self-defense, defense of others, whatever). When it comes to shooting someone as self-defense, you have to prove that you were in fear for your life or you feared great bodily injury (you may only respond with deadly force if you feared for your life/great bodily injury). What the castle doctrine does is it says "he's claiming self-defense, since he's in his house, we'll assume that he feared for his life/great bodily injury" so that it is no longer up to the defendant to prove that he feared for his life, it's now up to the prosecution to prove that the defendant didn't fear for their life/GBI if they want to defeat the claim of self-defense. Thus if the prosecution can prove that the defendant/shooter didn't fear for their life/GBI, the defendant/shooter would still be guilty of a crime.

Hope that made sense and hope that helped!

tiko
05-14-2010, 8:28 PM
My neighbor is a sheriff deputy, he said that he never got problem with a clear case of self defense, but he always looks for the relationship of the intruder and the home owner.

misterjake
05-14-2010, 10:14 PM
We have a 'castle doctrine' in 198.5 PC et seq that's pretty good.

It's better than that of many 'red states' that do not have one.

Do not expect that just because of castle doctrine you'll slide easy after a shoot. That even applies in other states with stronger castle doctrines.

Bottom line: don't shoot someone in CA just because he's stealing your car or VCR.

Have articulable fear of death or bodily harm to you or yours. And while there is no duty to retreat, etc. - if the guy is leaving your house, it'd not really smell good if the entry wound is in his arse or back!

That's when you turn him around and shoot him frontally, then flip him back on his stomach.

When the police ask you why did you shoot him in the back, you tell them, "Officer, I was scared, I fired two times as he came after me, after he was hit, he started to run away but fell to the ground. He seemed motionless and as I approached, he started to grab my leg, I then fired 8 more times as I feared for my life."

There

Scratch705
05-14-2010, 11:20 PM
That's when you turn him around and shoot him frontally, then flip him back on his stomach.

When the police ask you why did you shoot him in the back, you tell them, "Officer, I was scared, I fired two times as he came after me, after he was hit, he started to run away but fell to the ground. He seemed motionless and as I approached, he started to grab my leg, I then fired 8 more times as I feared for my life."

There

ha.....

but no, that would be illegal. although satisfying to get rid of the streets of a criminal but no.

FirstFlight
05-15-2010, 12:28 PM
The real Castle Doctrine extends meaning to vehicle, tent, RV, and office. It also exempts one from civil as well as criminal prosecution. Even if you slide by the DA in CA, you and your homeowners insurance would get nailed on a civil suit.

Now...thats the Castle Doctrine we need in California!

a1c
05-15-2010, 2:25 PM
The real Castle Doctrine extends meaning to vehicle, tent, RV, and office. It also exempts one from civil as well as criminal prosecution. Even if you slide by the DA in CA, you and your homeowners insurance would get nailed on a civil suit.

There is no "real" Castle Doctrine. Each state has its own application of the concept.

Unless you're referring to English Common law, back when it would refer to people who actually owned a castle.

motorhead
05-15-2010, 3:35 PM
use a gun in defense, go to the castle crossbar. a pregnant female might go uncharged, everyone else should plan on being guilty until you can prove your innocence. i prefer the shovel doctrine.

CSDGuy
05-15-2010, 5:01 PM
California has an OK system, unfortunately, there's no civil suit immunity built into it. Thus, even if you get into a clear self-defense shoot and the DA won't file, the person that got shot can still file a civil suit against you and you'd have to defend yourself against that instead of making the accuser prove you did wrong.

Anothercoilgun
05-15-2010, 8:05 PM
California has an OK system, unfortunately, there's no civil suit immunity built into it. Thus, even if you get into a clear self-defense shoot and the DA won't file, the person that got shot can still file a civil suit against you and you'd have to defend yourself against that instead of making the accuser prove you did wrong.

Closed caption will set you free. And remember two to the sternum.

bomb_on_bus
05-15-2010, 8:26 PM
isn't this why they use throw away guns and plant them on the bad guy afterwards. Maybe fire a round or two afterwards to make it even more believable?