(WGHP) — Is it legal to shoot someone to protect your home in North Carolina? The answer depends on the circumstances.
First and foremost, if you need legal advice, you should contact an attorney. The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
North Carolina is one of many states with what is referred to as “Stand Your Ground” laws. While some states say you have a duty to retreat before you are justified in using force against someone else, North Carolina and certain other states do not require you to try to escape before taking action against to your threat, according to Roberts Law Team.
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North Carolina General Statute says, “A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
What this means is that, if you use force against another person, that force must be reasonable and justifiable compared to the threat they pose to you. If you cannot demonstrate that, you may not be justified in your use of force.
“However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if either of the following applies,” according to the North Carolina General Statutes. “He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”
In other words, you may be justified in using deadly force if the other person would imminently kill or significantly hurt you or another person. Note that this statute does not apply to law enforcement officers who are performing official duties.
The other scenarios in which the use of force may be justified include your home, workplace and your motor vehicle. This is commonly known as “castle doctrine.”
What this means is, if someone were to go into your home, workplace or vehicle unlawfully, you may be justified in using defensive force if their presence gives you “reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm,” according to the North Carolina General Statutes.
Note that you cannot use force against law enforcement officers performing official duties, people who have a lawful right to be on the premises and children in the lawful custody of the person threatening you.
It should also be noted that you are no longer justified in the use of defensive force if the other person no longer poses a threat to you and is trying to escape and not commit any further criminal activity.
In other terms, just because someone had posed a threat to you does not mean you are justified in using force to get back at them once they are no longer actively posing a threat to you.