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Indianapolis Criminal & OWI Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > Understanding the Castle Doctrine in Indiana

Understanding the Castle Doctrine in Indiana


You wake up from sleep because you hear someone tiptoeing around the house. Frightened, you remember you own a gun, so you retrieve it. But are you justified in using deadly force against an intruder in your home? Aren’t you required to retreat if a safe retreat is possible? The answers to these questions depend on your state’s self-defense laws. The “Castle Doctrine” laws allow individuals to use lethal force against unlawful intruders in their homes. Under the Castle Doctrine, you do not have the duty to retreat from your home, even if a safe retreat is possible. The Castle Doctrine gives you the right to defend your home.

Origin of the Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine traces its roots in English common law, referenced as early as 1604. Under English common law, a man’s home is his castle. Therefore, he has the right to defend it from unlawful intrusion. This concept was later formally incorporated into the American legal system. Castle Doctrine laws have existed in the United States of America for more than two centuries, with variation among states regarding application and the sort of protection the law provides.

According to the Castle Doctrine, a person is allowed to use force against an intruder in their home or on their property if they believe the intruder intends to cause harm. The Castle Doctrine eradicates the duty to retreat. The duty to retreat is a legal principle that requires people to try and retreat from a threatening situation before resorting to force in self-defense. The Castle Doctrine holds that a person should not be required to flee their home to avoid confronting an intruder.

Because the exact way the Castle Doctrine is applied varies from one state to another, it is vital to reference relevant state laws to ensure any actions taken are within the legal boundaries of the law.

Is There a Castle Doctrine Law in Indiana?

Yes, there is a Castle Doctrine law in Indiana. This law is codified in Indiana Code 35-41-3-2. The law grants Indiana residents with reasonable immunity when they use justifiable force to defend themselves in their homes.

It is vital to note that under the state’s Castle Doctrine law, the concept of a “castle” includes not just a person’s home but also vehicles. This means that in Indiana, you do not have a duty to retreat when threatened in your car. Indiana law acknowledges the evolving nature of threats to personal safety outside the home. The state recognizes that people have the right to defend themselves in certain locations where they have the right to be present.

Another vital thing to note is that Indiana law grants civil immunity to individuals who use justified force to defend their property. This means a person whose conduct justified the use of force cannot file a claim or action against someone they allege to have injured them.

Legal Help Is Available

If you have questions or need help with a criminal case, contact our skilled and dedicated Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers at Rigney Law LLC.

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