Tag: Charlottesville Criminal Defense Attorney
RICHMOND—The state Senate has approved a bill that allows a homeowner to kill an intruder in his or her home without being liable for civil damages.
The “castle doctrine” bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Stuart, R–Stafford, and others, essentially codifies what is already common law in Virginia, Stuart said.
“If an intruder comes into your home unlawfully, if that intruder makes an overt act toward you you’re allowed to use deadly force,” Stuart said. “In other words, you can shoot that intruder without fear of being sued civilly.”
Some Democrats argued that the bill would actually be more limiting than common law by enshrining in statute exactly what is allowed and not allowed.
They also said Stuart’s bill wouldn’t provide the immunity from civil liability that he said it would.
“We often claim we’re immunizing people, we’re protecting people. All this bill does is set up a jury instruction,” said Sen. Don McEachin, D–Richmond. “It came out in the Courts of Justice Committee that the actual common-law castle doctrine provides more defense for someone than this bill does. Resist the temptation to fool the citizens of Virginia, to allow them to think we’re immunizing them for something.”
Stuart said the bill would provide “a clear direction” to judges in self-defense cases.
“There is already a great deal of discretion when it comes to these common-law defenses, because they remain subject to interpretation by courts. and that’s why we codify common-law principles,” Stuart said. “There’s no reason in this world that anyone in this room should have to worry about being sued by someone for defending themselves and their children in their own home.”
The bill passed, 23–17.
Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245
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