Legal Expert On Castle Doctrine, 'Stand Your Ground' Laws
Friday, April 21, 2023
Missouri's Stand Your Ground law has been cited a number of times since the recent shooting of a Missouri teen by a homeowner whose house he went to by mistake. But one expert said the statute is not what authorizes a person to use lethal force when a "legitimate" threat occurs at their home or property.
Ari Freilich, state policy director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, pointed out Stand Your Ground laws apply in public spaces, and the Castle Doctrine covers private property.
He said what the two have in common is lowering the legal requirement to avoid using lethal force when possible, by stepping away, or otherwise de-escalating the situation.
"Generally speaking, you cannot use lethal force unless it was objectively reasonable for you to believe that it was necessary to use that amount of force to prevent death or serious bodily harm, or really serious crimes from occurring," Freilich explained.
Freilich noted both the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws fall under the umbrella of homicide laws. He added although every state has variations, the legal system has important protections, independent of the two, in the form of self-defense and justifiable homicide laws.
Freilich stressed although the Castle Doctrine does not require someone to step away or attempt to de-escalate a threat when at home, it has major restrictions.
"That does not authorize someone to use lethal force when there is no reason to believe that someone is unlawfully entering the home," Freilich emphasized. "And also, when there is really no objectively reasonable indicator that the person was a threat to life or safety."
And although de-escalating has historically been the expectation in public spaces, Freilich acknowledged people's understanding of this seems to be changing.
"Stand your ground laws have altered and distorted that and told people they have some vague affirmative right in public spaces -- wherever they might lawfully be present -- to stand their ground and not withdraw, not de-escalate in that way," Freilich said.
Freilich co-authored a study with the Southern Poverty Law Center which concluded Stand Your Ground laws should be repealed, stating, "They encourage a trigger-happy culture of anxious vigilantism that cheapens the value of human life. And they deepen vast and harmful disparities in our legal system."
get more stories like this via email
This is the last weekend to get involved in a photo competition designed to encourage Montanans to explore the wilderness with their pets. There …
In a new poll, about a quarter of Hispanic students in post-high school education and training programs report feeling discriminated against…
New Yorkers are preparing for an impending government shutdown. State officials are worried about how it could impact the work state agencies have …
Advocates are drawing attention to systemic racism in farming across North Carolina and the nation. The National Farm Worker Ministry is hosting its …
Researchers have found the amount of land affected by saltwater intrusion on the Delmarva Peninsula has dramatically increased in recent years…
This weekend marks the kickoff of National Bullying Prevention Month. Those raising awareness hope schools in South Dakota and elsewhere work toward …
The arrival of fall has farmers transitioning to the harvest season, but what if some gathered their crops with rows of solar panels right alongside …
A new report finds more than half of the sewage facilities in Idaho had pollution violations in 2022. The sixth annual analysis by the Idaho …