Virginia "Castle" Law? - Page 3

Virginia "Castle" Law?

This is a discussion on Virginia "Castle" Law? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I will keep that in mind in the future. Take care! Have a great year!...

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Thread: Virginia "Castle" Law?

  1. #31
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    Thank you as well!

    I will keep that in mind in the future. Take care! Have a great year!


  2. #32
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    OK...this is confusing me a bit...I guess I dont' understand....

    I'm not a native Virginian, I'm a Maine(iac)...my wife is a local and we are in viewing distance of her family farm where she grew up.

    OK....it's 3 AM, my wife is sleeping with me, my 15 year old daughter is sleeping in her room, and I hear a suspected BG either trying to or gaining entrance into my home.

    It's dark, I have my gun out, I'm not turning on a light to give them an advantage in a unfamiliar environment (read, mine). Logically speaking, they are not visiting me for cookies and tea. They are up to no good...in this area, most likely looking for cash, drugs, or a combination of both.

    So, since we are a non-Castle Doctrine state, I have to (1) first flee exposing myself to being gunned down and risking the lives of my wife and child??

    Also, it blows my mind that I can legally do nothing to prevent a forced entry into my home, or to stop a felony car-jacking or theft as you can't protect property, only life.

    Am I wrong here?? Am I reading this right?? If this is true, why don't all of us Virginian's put a sign on our homes and say "rob me, I can't legally do anything about it..."??
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post
    OK...this is confusing me a bit...I guess I dont' understand....

    I'm not a native Virginian, I'm a Maine(iac)...my wife is a local and we are in viewing distance of her family farm where she grew up.

    OK....it's 3 AM, my wife is sleeping with me, my 15 year old daughter is sleeping in her room, and I hear a suspected BG either trying to or gaining entrance into my home.

    It's dark, I have my gun out, I'm not turning on a light to give them an advantage in a unfamiliar environment (read, mine). Logically speaking, they are not visiting me for cookies and tea. They are up to no good...in this area, most likely looking for cash, drugs, or a combination of both.

    So, since we are a non-Castle Doctrine state, I have to (1) first flee exposing myself to being gunned down and risking the lives of my wife and child??

    Also, it blows my mind that I can legally do nothing to prevent a forced entry into my home, or to stop a felony car-jacking or theft as you can't protect property, only life.

    Am I wrong here?? Am I reading this right?? If this is true, why don't all of us Virginian's put a sign on our homes and say "rob me, I can't legally do anything about it..."??
    You bring up many interesting questions.

    If you reasonably believe your life and the lives of your wife and child are in danger, or you believe you, your wife, or your child are at grave risk of bodily harm, you can indeed use lethal force. But, you have to be able to articulate why the threat required a lethal response.

    The law does not say that you cannot defend yourself in your home, just not with lethal force. Say someone is on the other side of the door trying to force their way into your home. Can you push the door closed, and fight to keep the door closed? You bet you can. Does the intruder put hands on you and attempt to fight with you, can you defend yourself? You bet you can. But to use lethal force, there must be an immediate threat of death or grave bodily injury to you, or your family, the attacker must have both the means and ability to cause death or grave bodily harm. Simply fearing the attacker may or might is not justification alone.

    None of this applies to protecting property.

    I'm sure some of the lawyers can explain this better than I have, but that is it in a nutshell.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    My lawyer has said that someone being in your home is not enough reason to shoot them, that is the law in VA. You must be able to articulate that you were in fear for your life or of serious bodily harm. While retreat would certainly strengthen your defense, it is not required if you cannot safely do so.
    [emphasis added]
    Yep! Can you say convincingly that you fear for your life, the life of your family, the life of some other innocent, or feared serious bodily harm -- to yourself, or to others?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProShooter View Post
    Virginia does not take a stance on the Castle Doctrine either way. Each shooting incident is investigated independantly and a decision made whether it was a good or bad shoot.

    This is based on case law, not statutory law. If a Commonwealth Attorney thinks that you could have handled the situation better, they maintain the right to charge you.
    [emphasis added]
    Yep. A number of us tried to get a Texas type law passed a while back. The bill got little support.

    1) There are a lot of folk in the RKBA community that think that case law is better than a castle doctrine law -- or any form that would make it past the governor's veto. They fear an attempt to codify would weaken what we have under case law.

    2) At that time, no one could come up with a poster child case -- i.e., a case where there was any degree of consensus that the current case law had failed and that someone was convicted or even charged who was free from fault and had no part in initiating the altercation.

    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post
    OK...this is confusing me a bit...I guess I dont' understand....

    I'm not a native Virginian, I'm a Maine(iac)...my wife is a local and we are in viewing distance of her family farm where she grew up.

    OK....it's 3 AM, my wife is sleeping with me, my 15 year old daughter is sleeping in her room, and I hear a suspected BG either trying to or gaining entrance into my home.

    It's dark, I have my gun out, I'm not turning on a light to give them an advantage in a unfamiliar environment (read, mine). Logically speaking, they are not visiting me for cookies and tea. They are up to no good...in this area, most likely looking for cash, drugs, or a combination of both.
    Need to define "up to no good".

    1) Stealing property? Not a righteous shoot, if you shoot them.

    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post
    So, since we are a non-Castle Doctrine state, I have to (1) first flee exposing myself to being gunned down and risking the lives of my wife and child??
    To the best of my knowledge there is no obligation to flee in Virginia.

    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post
    Also, it blows my mind that I can legally do nothing to prevent a forced entry into my home, or to stop a felony car-jacking or theft as you can't protect property, only life.
    Short of us adopting a Texas type Castle Doctrine you can not shoot to protect property. I haven't researched it, but a well-read member of the RKBA community told me just the other day that the vast majority of the various States' Castle Doctrine no not include the right to protect property.


    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post

    Am I wrong here?? Am I reading this right?? If this is true, why don't all of us Virginian's put a sign on our homes and say "rob me, I can't legally do anything about it..."??
    I agree. But this situation isn't unique to Virginia. I suspect the States where you can protect property with deadly force are a small minority.

    Let's see who gets elected next round. If thing improve, we might try again for a Texas type Castle Doctrine law.
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  5. #35
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    Should a home-invasion scenario come to pass and you shoot someone, alot would be left up to the Commonwealth's Attorney. I have two good friends who are ex-military, one a USAF OSI agent and the other a former Marine company commander, who are UVA law grads and work for our Commonwealth. Both are strong 2A guys and keep guns at home (and carry) for SD. We've had numerous discussions about these scenarios, and I think neither would be tough to convince that you feared for the lives of you and your family.

    Not legal advice, just talk over beers. I'm not sure where the ultimate decision to prosecute or not prosecute would lie, but neither of these guys would be spring-loaded to go after someone who shot an intruder. The benefit of the doubt would weigh heavily with the home owner with these guys.

  6. #36
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    This just kills me...an honest man and his family simply trying to exist and live their life peacefully and live the American Dream can be shattered by a moron breaking into my home jeopardizing my wife and child.

    We have a pre-planned "emergency" contingency plan in place...my wife and daughter know what to do, how to barricade themselves, and if I have anything to do/say about it, Mr or Mrs BG is NOT going to have an opportunity to come anywhere near our sleeping areas.

    I guess I can tolerate the non-protection of property via deadly force, but it makes absolutely no sense to me. I/we are the victims in this scenario...if you're breaking into my home, "up to no good" is self explanatory...you arent' a friend or acquaintance. You aren't visiting out of the blue for cookies and milk at 0300 for intelligent conversation and good eats.

    This area has a incredibly high level of drug use, violent felons, people on the sex-offender list provided by the State Police....and hopefully my prediction isn't true, but I'm thinking with the current state of our economy, rising prices and devaluation of the dollar, people are going to become increasingly more and more desperate to survive.

    I am a law-abiding citizen, I have the ultimate respect for LEO's and our judicial system. I have fought for my freedom's and other's because I truly believe in them and our nation. This I believe.

    What I can't tolerate is knowing that my wife and child may at some point become endangered and be hurt, raped, or killed due to a forced-entry, or burglary scenario. I could not live with myself if that happened knowing I didn't react or try to defend them allowing it to happen using all means necessary to prevent it from occuring.

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  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post
    OK...this is confusing me a bit...I guess I dont' understand....

    I'm not a native Virginian, I'm a Maine(iac)...my wife is a local and we are in viewing distance of her family farm where she grew up.

    OK....it's 3 AM, my wife is sleeping with me, my 15 year old daughter is sleeping in her room, and I hear a suspected BG either trying to or gaining entrance into my home.

    It's dark, I have my gun out, I'm not turning on a light to give them an advantage in a unfamiliar environment (read, mine). Logically speaking, they are not visiting me for cookies and tea. They are up to no good...in this area, most likely looking for cash, drugs, or a combination of both.

    So, since we are a non-Castle Doctrine state, I have to (1) first flee exposing myself to being gunned down and risking the lives of my wife and child??

    Also, it blows my mind that I can legally do nothing to prevent a forced entry into my home, or to stop a felony car-jacking or theft as you can't protect property, only life.

    Am I wrong here?? Am I reading this right?? If this is true, why don't all of us Virginian's put a sign on our homes and say "rob me, I can't legally do anything about it..."??
    The training I have received from professionals in this field regarding VA law state that you only have to reasonably retreat. This does not mean to the farthest recess of your basement or being backed into a corner. If you and your family are occupying an area, say the upstairs in separate rooms of the house, and an armed intruder is attempting to enter that area e.g., come up the stairs, you are under no obligation to retreat any further than the top of the stairs if it endangers your wife and/or children. Each incident will be handled on its merits or demerits by the local Commonwealth Attorney, until our elected officials get a backbone and approve a Castle Doctrine for Virginia.
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSgt USMC View Post
    This just kills me...an honest man and his family simply trying to exist and live their life peacefully and live the American Dream can be shattered by a moron breaking into my home jeopardizing my wife and child.
    Were a moron to break into your home and jeopardize your wife and child, you should be able to articulate fear for life or of serious bodily harm, to self or others who had no part in initiating the altercation or escalating it.

    The moron would have initiated it.

    You ended it based of fear for life or of serious bodily harm, to self or others.

    Much of Virgina "law" is based on case law, not statutory law. For example, there was a thread here not too long ago about the need to identify yourself to a LEO. Virgina was not listed in some list, because much of that issue is set on case law, not statutory law.

    The prevalent opinion here is that if justice is being served by case law, don't mess with it. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Spike32 View Post
    The training I have received from professionals in this field regarding VA law state that you only have to reasonably retreat.
    Did any of these professionals provide any documentation of any cases or other sources that show that any retreat is necessary?

    All I have found turn around the shooter having no part in initiating the altercation or escalating it, and could articulate that a fear for life or of serious bodily harm, to self or others who had no part in initiating the altercation or escalating it.

    As Scott posted, retreat would certainly strengthen your defense. However, I have never found that any level of retreat is required.

    It is imposable to prove a negative. So, I not saying that there are no cases to support the need for a retreat. There may be a case somewhere -- criminal or civil. However, I keep asking for a citation every time some says Virginia is a must retreat State. So far, no one has provided one.

    BTW -- Speaking of criminal or civil cases, it is the civil side of the equation that I think is the strongest reason we should be working for a Castle Law in Virginia.

    It's not that folk are being tried on criminal charges.

    Folk are being forced to spend good money to win frivolous civil suits which should never have been allowed in the first place.
    Last edited by DaveH; May 1st, 2009 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Spell checker road kill, weird spacing showed up and some bad grammar
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    I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.

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  9. #39
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    Thanks for the replies...I feel a little better now....criminal charges would probably be dropped as "justifiable" if it did go to court....then the possibility exists that a civil suit could follow.

    Dave...where in SW Virginia are you at?? We have to be relatively close...

    Being retired Military, I'm not required to attend any classes to obtain a CCW, but I'm probably going to attend one anyway just for the knowledge presented there.

    I like this area, it's beautiful, and there are a lot of good, decent, hard-working folks here living and enjoying their lives. Sadly, now a lot of "undesireables" have become increasingly on the rise with unemployment and drug use here. In a lot of these small, rural towns there is no organic "law", usually just the County Sheriff or State Police with potentially long wait times until they arrive. I'm not waiting
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  10. #40
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    Well, since I posted the question as a thread, I have gotten new information. A lawyer around these parts and who actually posts on these hallowed pages once in a while, held a seminar that I attended. If the following information is incorrect, I would certainly welcome his clarification.

    What I heard is this .....In Virginia there is a difference in the way intrusions are handled based on the time of day. During the hours of darkness, it is presumed by the courts that the perp is out to commit severe bodily harm to the owner or members of his family. Therefore, he is fair game. Shoot his a**!

    During the hours of daylight, an intruder is merely viewed as a trespasser/thief and therefore you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was intent on doing you sever bodily harm. If he points a handgun at you...BAM! If he is merely picking up your television/gameboy/whatever, retreat and call the police. You cannot defend property with lethal force.

    It is now my understanding that this is the way it works in Virginia.

    I am NOT giving legal advice...check it out yourself, locally.

  11. #41
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    Everyone needs to keep writing their senators, reps, etc.....and get the Castle Doctrine in their state.....we have it in AZ, and we did it by speaking up and being heard. WRITE and CALL and keep it up till it hurts!!
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  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zsnake View Post
    What I heard is this .....In Virginia there is a difference in the way intrusions are handled based on the time of day. During the hours of darkness, it is presumed by the courts that the perp is out to commit severe bodily harm to the owner or members of his family. Therefore, he is fair game. Shoot his a**!
    From what I read, you still need to articulate fear for life or of serious bodily harm, to self or others. Hours of darkness helps establish reasonableness/credibility.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zsnake View Post
    During the hours of daylight, an intruder is merely viewed as a trespasser/thief and therefore you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was intent on doing you sever bodily harm. If he points a handgun at you...BAM! If he is merely picking up your television/gameboy/whatever, retreat and call the police. You cannot defend property with lethal force.
    In Virginia, you can never justify lethal force to defend property.

    Again from what I've read, it goes beyond "he points a handgun." Any weapon can do. Numbers, size, age, gender, etc can establish disparate levels of force -- that justify fear . Level of aggressive behavior can justify fear fear for life or of serious bodily harm, etc

    An old fart like me has more credibility of such fear than a strapping 20 yo facing a break-in the same situation. Fear is virtually a gimme for a 65+ woman alone facing aggressive behavior & threats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zsnake View Post

    It is now my understanding that this is the way it works in Virginia.
    Yep! That's Common Law / Case law at work.
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  13. #43
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    Glad that I reside in Texas. One case in Fort Worth involved a double tag outside the residence and the grand jury would not indict.

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