“Stand-your-ground” laws have been taking the spotlight in the news lately due to the Zimmerman trial. This has some Carolina residents wondering if North Carolina has a “stand-your-ground” law?
North Carolina, along with 23 other states, has some form of “stand-your-ground” law. This law originates from the Castle Doctrine, an old English law that stated “an Englishman’s home is his castle and he needn’t fear a murder charge in defending it.” Most “stand-your-ground” laws allow an individual who is in their home, workplace, or vehicle and fears that they or another is in danger of imminent death or serious bodily harm to use deadly force to defend himself/herself without the duty to retreat.
In North Carolina, if the lawful occupant of a home, car or workplace holds a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to themself or another, they can use deadly defensive force only if the person, against whom the deadly force is used has unlawfully or forcibly entering the home, car, or workplace, or has already unlawfully and forcibly entered the home, car, or workplace, or has removed or is attempting to remove another person against their will from the home, car, or workplace. This deadly defensive force cannot be used against a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who is lawfully acting in his/her official duties and have identified himself/herself as such.
It is worth noting that George Zimmerman was not in his home, car, or workplace at the time he used deadly force. In North Carolina, a person is justified to use deadly force without having to retreat in any place he or she has a lawful right to be and reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. In North Carolina, a claim of self defense does require that the perpetrator not be the aggressor, not use unreasonable force, and not continue to pursue a person after the person has retreated.
Like in Florida, in North Carolina if you are using the “stand-your-ground” law to lawfully defend yourself you are immune from civil or criminal liability.
To read North Carolina’s “stand-your-ground” laws in their entirety, click here.