What is the castle doctrine?

| Dec 13, 2020 | Criminal Law |

In Montana, your home is your castle. Consequently, you have the right to use force, even deadly force, if necessary, to protect yourself and your home against intruders. 

FindLaw explains that today’s so-called castle doctrine derives from English common law that gave castle owners the right to defend their property from invading forces. 

Castle doctrine versus stand your ground

Actually, Montana law provides for both the castle doctrine and a stand your ground doctrine. Both doctrines allow you to assert self-defense to justify your use of force against someone who threatens you, your family, your property, etc. 

While the castle doctrine applies to your home, garage, yard, etc., stand your ground applies to other places as well, such as the following: 

  • Inside your car or other vehicle 
  • On a sidewalk or street 
  • In a parking lot 
  • In a park or other public gathering place 
  • In a recreation center or other public building 

In fact, Montana’s stand your ground legislation shields you when using force to protect yourself and others anywhere you or they have a legitimate right to be. 

Specific conditions

Keep in mind, however, that neither the castle doctrine nor the stand your ground doctrine protects you in all situations. While both relieve you of any responsibility to attempt to retreat from the threatened danger, you must use only the amount of force necessary to protect yourself and others from the threat. In other words, you must reasonably believe that you or the person you are attempting to protect face imminent death or bodily harm in order to use deadly force against the aggressor.