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Old 02-17-2012, 23:34   #1
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WI Castle law

Hello, Mr. Ayoob. Thank you for taking the time to give your opinion on a matter that has been bugging me.

Wisconsin recently passed their version of a castle doctrine. It gives protection for home, car, and place of business. It does NOT cover property (exterior premises). We also do NOT have a duty to retreat.

Of course there are a lot of contradictory opinions on whether the castle doctrine really protects you, say, if the intruder was only trying to steal material goods. I am of the mind that the intruder's intentions cannot be determined, and the castle doctrine gives you the right to fear for your life, so to speak, once someone (who is unknown to you and who is not LE) forcibly and illegally enters your home, car or place of business.

I guess my question is this: What are the general legal precedents regarding the castle doctrine? I know each case is different. But in the eyes of the law, can someone automatically fear for their life when someone forces their way into your home (in those states with castle doctrines)? Have the courts come to a majority consensus in this matter?

Thank you!
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Old 02-18-2012, 18:31   #2
Mas Ayoob
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My friend, your question requires a book-length answer...and the book hasn't been written yet. Recent Castle Doctrine laws have yet to be thoroughly shaken out in the courts and appellate courts, but from what I've seen, they're interpretive.

Common sense advice: Never use deadly force to protect only what the courts call "mere property."

Bear in mind that there are exceptions to "castle doctrine": when the abused wife shoots the battering husband in self-defense, Castle Doctrine doesn't apply if they both live in the house and have an equal right to be there. Ditto the psycho roommate, and some other situations you probably won't need my guidance to imagine. If it's a hostility between an invited guest (who has a right to be there) and the homeowner, exactly how much time must elapse before the "now-uninvited" person is seen as an intruder instead of an invited guest? I saw that one turn ugly in a self-defense shooting case a couple of years ago, and hard-line caselaw on that element has yet to be established.

The bottom line: none of this is simple, and "new" laws (even if they involve long-standing legal precepts) remain open to interpretation by trial judges.

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Old 02-18-2012, 19:03   #3
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Thank you for your response. I guess it's hard to establish in the courts the "presumtion of fear for your life" when true castle doctrine cases probably never go to court. So in that sense, there is probably little legal history in the matter. Of course there are a slew of hypothetical situations where castle doctrine doesn't apply, and I am sure those are the types of cases where the shooter ends up being prosecuted, and rightly so in most cases I would imagine.
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