Castle Doctrine

Castle Doctrine in CT?

First off, what is the “Castle Doctrine”?

Wikipedia describes it as:

A Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates one’s place of residence (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as one’s car or place of work) as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack[1]. It then goes on to give a person the legal right to use deadly force to defend their place, and any other innocent persons legally inside it, from violent attack or an intrusion which may lead to violent attack. In a legal context, therefore, use of deadly force which actually results in death may be defended as justifiable homicide under the Castle Doctrine.

There are some generally accepted conditions in the “wiki”, such as:

Conditions of use

Each state differs with respect to the specific instances in which the Castle Doctrine can be invoked, and what degree of retreat or non-deadly resistance (if any) is required before deadly force can be used.

In general, (one) or a variety of conditions must be met before a person can legally use the Castle Doctrine:

An intruder must be making (or have made) an attempt to unlawfully and/or forcibly enter an occupied residence, business or vehicle.

The intruder must be acting illegally—e.g. the Castle Doctrine does not give the right to attack officers of the law acting in the course of their legal duties

The occupant(s) of the home must reasonably believe that the intruder intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon an occupant of the home

The occupant(s) of the home must reasonably believe that the intruder intends to commit some other felony, such as arson or burglary

The occupant(s) of the home must not have provoked or instigated an intrusion, or provoked or instigated an intruder to threaten or use deadly force

The occupant(s) of the home may be required to attempt to exit the house or otherwise retreat (this is called the “Duty to retreat” and most self-defense statutes referred to as examples of “Castle Doctrine” expressly state that the homeowner has no such duty)

In all cases, the occupant(s) of the home must be there legally, must not be fugitives from the law, must not be using the Castle Doctrine to aid or abet another person in being a fugitive from the law, and must not use deadly force upon an officer of the law or an officer of the peace while they are performing or attempting to perform their legal duties.

Note: the term “home” is used because most states only apply their Castle Doctrine to a place of residence; however, some states extend the protection to other legally-occupied places such as automobiles and places of business.

CT has come close a few times to getting Castle Doctrine, but failed.  In my opinion, the previous bills didn’t go far enough.  We also need protection from civil prosecution as well.

That being said, CT doesn’t have Castle Doctrine, but we do have a legally defined criteria for defense as described below:

Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 53a-19.

Use of physical force in defense of person. (a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, a  person is justified in using reasonable physical force upon another person to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force, and he may use such degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose; except that deadly physical force may not be used unless the actor reasonably believes that such other person is (1) using or about to use deadly physical force, or (2) inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm.(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if he or she knows that he or she can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety (1) by retreating, except that the actor shall not be required to retreat if he or she is in his or her dwelling, as defined in section 53a-100, or place of work and was not the initial aggressor, or if he or she is a peace officer, a special policeman appointed under section 29-18b, or a motor vehicle inspector designated under section 14-8 and certified pursuant to section 7-294d, or a private person assisting such peace officer, special policeman or motor vehicle inspector at his or her direction, and acting pursuant to section 53a-22, or (2) by surrendering possession of property to a person asserting a claim of right thereto, or (3) by complying with a demand that he or she abstain from performing an act which he or she is not obliged to perform.  (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a person is not justified in using physical force when (1) with intent to cause physical injury or death to another person, he provokes the use of physical force by such other person, or (2) he is the initial aggressor, except that his use of physical force upon another person under such circumstances is justifiable if he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so, but such other person notwithstanding continues or threatens the use of physical force, or (3) the physical force involved was the product of a combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law.

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap951.htm#Sec53a-19.htm

Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 53a-20.

Use of physical force in defense of premises. A person in possession or control of premises, or a person who is licensed or privileged to be in or upon such premises, is justified in using reasonable physical force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass by such other person in or upon such premises; but he may use deadly physical force under such circumstances only (1) in defense of a person as prescribed in section 53a-19, or (2) when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent an attempt by the trespasser to commit arson or any crime of violence, or (3) to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry by force into his dwelling as defined in section 53a-100, or place of work, and for the sole purpose of such prevention or termination.

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap951.htm#Sec53a-20.htm