Question about the castle doctrine law of self defense

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#1 Posted by LegitGamer3212 (1619 posts) -

Castle Doctrine

New York has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine, but it is considered weaker than castle doctrine laws in other states. In New York, a duty to retreat exists in any place outside ones home. Within the home, the statute authorizes deadly force as long as the resident is not the initial aggressor. Outside the home, however, persons must retreat from attackers if they can do so safely.

With respect to victims who are inside their own home, New Yorks law states in part:

A person in possession or control of, or licensed or privileged to be in, a dwelling or an occupied building, who reasonably believes that another person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling or building, may use deadly physical force upon such other person when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of such burglary.


That's the castle doctrine law on the books. I live in NYC and it's nearly impossible to buy a gun for self defense here. My mom's house got burglarized twice and it's not like she can defend herself from a home invader. So when the laws says, you may use deadly physical force to terminate a burglary does that mean you can kill the person once you witness he's trying to steal your stuff? It doesn't say you have to retreat when you're in your home.

#2 Posted by Nibroc420 (13571 posts) -
There's always the "reasonably believes such to be necessary" bit. Also force must be within reason, meaning, if you hit him with a bat and knock him out, you dont get to kill him.
#3 Posted by moneymatterz (1139 posts) -

Interestingly enough, there is a user here who is a NY cop, though your question would probably best directed at a lawyer.

#4 Posted by LegitGamer3212 (1619 posts) -

There's always the "reasonably believes such to be necessary" bit. Also force must be within reason, meaning, if you hit him with a bat and knock him out, you dont get to kill him.Nibroc420

well yeah, lets say you reasonably believe he's trying and he is burglarizing your house. If you hit him in the neck with a wrench and he dies, are you going to be charged or is that justified. I mean if a home invader is in your house stealing your stuff you can't just stand around like an idiot and watch right?

#5 Posted by guynamedbilly (12967 posts) -
It's different from state to state. If what you quoted is the actual law, then it clearly states you can kill if you think that's what it would take to stop the burglary. I guess weaker depends on your perspective. Sometimes it's only allowed if you are in physical danger, sometimes not at all. Why is it so difficult to buy a gun there?
#6 Posted by Nibroc420 (13571 posts) -

[QUOTE="Nibroc420"]There's always the "reasonably believes such to be necessary" bit. Also force must be within reason, meaning, if you hit him with a bat and knock him out, you dont get to kill him.LegitGamer3212

well yeah, lets say you reasonably believe he's trying and he is burglarizing your house. If you hit him in the neck with a wrench and he dies, are you going to be charged or is that justified. I mean if a home invader is in your house stealing your stuff you can't just stand around like an idiot and watch right?

Well the law you posted would mean that as long as you're "within a dwelling under your possession or control" aka your house; if you witness someone trying to steal your things, you're allowed to use force up to a maximum of deadly force in order to prevent the crime. Preferably call the police and try to knock the guy out with a bat. However if he dies, you were defending your home. Although court might be a nightmare.
#7 Posted by LegitGamer3212 (1619 posts) -

It's different from state to state. If what you quoted is the actual law, then it clearly states you can kill if you think that's what it would take to stop the burglary. I guess weaker depends on your perspective. Sometimes it's only allowed if you are in physical danger, sometimes not at all. Why is it so difficult to buy a gun there? guynamedbilly

to obtain the gun license in nyc is extremely difficult to impossible. You need to list every arrest including ones where you're not convicted, you need to get checked out by a psychologist, you need to pay over $500 for fees and fingerprinting, they also go through your driving violations such as running a stop sign, furthermore, it's a may issue state which means they don't have to give you the license even if you meet all the qualifications.

#8 Posted by Socialist696 (558 posts) -
Shoot them, drag em to your house, than call the cops...
#9 Posted by CRS98 (9036 posts) -
I have a similarly related question: If someone mugs you, can you pull a gun out and shoot them as they run away with your possessions?
#10 Posted by LegitGamer3212 (1619 posts) -

Shoot them, drag em to your house, than call the cops...Socialist696

that's not self defense, that's pre meditated murder.

#11 Posted by MrPraline (21331 posts) -
If I beat up a burglar here, I'll do more time than the thief, lol.
#12 Posted by LegitGamer3212 (1619 posts) -

I have a similarly related question: If someone mugs you, can you pull a gun out and shoot them as they run away with your possessions?CRS98

well in NY you cannot carry the gun with you outside your house. As for your question, i doubt you can shoot them as they run even in other states because if they're running away from you, the threat is over. You can only shoot if the threat is present, for example a killer on drugs has you in a choke hold and is dragging you to his van. In PA and many other states you can shoot this killer and claim self defense.

#13 Posted by Zeviander (9503 posts) -
I'm entirely in favor of the law as it relates to a home and the defence of family and/or property. Of course, "reasonable force" plays into this, big time. If you feel lethal force is being threatened (see a gun, or knife, or the invader threatens your life), then you should be able to use lethal force to subdue the invader(s). Then again, a case-by-case evaluation is important as well. To ensure that force was not excessive.
#14 Posted by thegerg (16059 posts) -
I have a similarly related question: If someone mugs you, can you pull a gun out and shoot them as they run away with your possessions?CRS98
It depends on where you are but, generally, no.
#15 Posted by krazykillaz (21141 posts) -

[QUOTE="guynamedbilly"]It's different from state to state. If what you quoted is the actual law, then it clearly states you can kill if you think that's what it would take to stop the burglary. I guess weaker depends on your perspective. Sometimes it's only allowed if you are in physical danger, sometimes not at all. Why is it so difficult to buy a gun there? LegitGamer3212

to obtain the gun license in nyc is extremely difficult to impossible. You need to list every arrest including ones where you're not convicted, you need to get checked out by a psychologist, you need to pay over $500 for fees and fingerprinting, they also go through your driving violations such as running a stop sign, furthermore, it's a may issue state which means they don't have to give you the license even if you meet all the qualifications.

The hardest part sounds like the fees.
#16 Posted by Alter_Echo (10722 posts) -

If someone breaks into your home and tries to kill you it's probably more sensible legally to just let them rob and kill you. Don't want to defend yourself and end up going to prison when the injustice system interprets the law in a way that makes you guilty of something.