Explaining North Carolina's Castle Doctrine

10:54 PM, Jul 8, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC - A Reidsville business owner shot and killed a man authorities say broke into his business, Monday morning.

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page says two people were attempting to break into Hall Well & Plumbing in Reidsville and when the security alarm went off, the business owner, Steve Hall, confronted the men. According to Hall, he ordered them to stop but one of the suspects, Jesse Ray Walker, charged at him.

Hall then shot and killed Walker, investigators said.

READ: Sheriff: Business Owner Not Charged For Killing Robbery Suspect

Hall has not been charged and deputies say he acted in self-defense. Hall might be protected under North Carolina's Castle Law, which lays out the rules and your rights when it comes to your property.

WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower spoke with private investigator and former Greensboro Police Officer about the law and what it does and does not protect. 

"If someone comes to your home or your car or your business and they break in while you're inside, they have intent to do bodily harm or to steal from you. Therefore the Castle Law is set up so if you are place in bodily fear when they come into your property and so you are able to use deadly force on that person," explained Ed Cobbler, private investigator.

North Carolina's Castle Doctrine protects people in their home, workplace or automobile. It allows a person to use defensive force, including lethal force, if they have a reasonable sense of fear of serious bodily harm in their home, workplace or car. North Carolina law does not require the person to retreat before using deadly force. 

The law presumes that "a person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person's home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence."

The law goes on to read, "a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have the duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if either of the following applies: he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another." 

To read the entire law on NC Castle Law.

"Scenario: You hear glass broken and you go to check that out and you find a person standing in the middle of your room, you're not required to ask that person what his intentions are and you're not required to check to see if he has some kind of a deadly weapon," explained Cobbler, "He's bought and paid for at that point according to the Castle Doctrine Law. So you can certainly use deadly force. You do not have to ask questions when that person is broken into your house or business."

Deadly force is not lawful if the person stopped their efforts to unlawfully or forcefully enter a home, workplace or motor vehicle and is fleeing. It is also unlawful if the person entering the home, workplace or motor vehicle is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman is acting in official duties. Deadly force is also not justified if a person is a lawful resident of the home, motor vehicle or workplace and did not have a written order or injunction prohibiting contact with the person who used defensible force. Deadly force is also not permissible if the person in the home, workplace or motor vehicle is a "child or grandchild or otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the defensive force is used." 

"If someone broke into the house, you got your flash light, you've got your weapon, you saw the person, the person saw you, they were scared, they ran out the door and you chase them down the street, the Castle Law does not apply to that because you cannot go down, run down the street after the person has broken in your house and shoot the person in the back," explained Cobbler.

Cobbler says if you are inside your home, "and you see a person walk by your window, you could be scared but you do not have the right to shoot that person through the window and use deadly force."

Cobbler says if a person is knocking on your car window or walking around your car, they are not presenting intent to do bodily harm.

"I could not pull my weapon and shoot that person.That would be manslaughter, could be murder, 2nd degree murder so that would not work," explained Cobbler. "The person would have to do something, show something, or break the glass and at the point you know that their intent is to do bodily harm to you."

WFMY News 2

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