States Expand “Castle Doctrine” Laws For More Property Protection


Sarah McKinley, an Oklahoma mom who shot and killed an intruder after asking a 911 operator if it was okay to shoot, was cleared of wrongdoing yesterday, says the Christian Science Monitor. Also this week police declined to bring charges against a Pennsylvania man who killed a romantic rival with a bow and arrow. In South Carolina, a woman who shot a homeless person squatting in an empty rental home was not charged.

These cases show that the so-called “castle doctrine” is being tested in a variety of new ways, as states have steadily expanded the rights of citizens to protect their homes and property. After Florida adopted a castle doctrine law in 2005, 31 states followed suit and now protect the right of homeowners to defend their property from intruders. Washington State is debating a castle doctrine law, North Carolina just expanded its law to include vehicles, and Pennsylvania last year expanded its law to include porches. Ohio passed a law last year expanding its castle doctrine to include business property, and now allows self-defense even in cases where an intruder is unarmed. Opponents say castle doctrine laws are unnecessary because there are few, if any, recorded cases where prosecutors have charged anyone engaged in self-defense of their home.

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