WV Senate Committee Passes “Castle Doctrine”
Note: Some states impose a duty to retreat from an intruder, even in one’s own home. Although West Virginia does not impose an actual duty to retreat from confrontation in one’s own home, it has somewhat been left up to interpretation. Furthermore, homeowners legally defending themselves can be sued civilly for personal injuries to an intruder – which is absolutely ludicrous.
This legislation is common sense. We know that in WV, especially in rural counties, we cannot depend on calling 911 to protect us from home intruders. We must be allowed to protect ourselves and our families from the crazy people of this world. As Charlie Daniels said, he’s “the kind of man that wouldn’t harm a mouse,” but if he catches somebody breaking in his house, he’s “got a twelve gauge shotgun waitin’ on the other side.” – John H. Bryan, West Virginia criminal defense attorey.
From today’s Beckley Register-Herald:
Panel approves ‘Castle Doctrine’ proposal
CHARLESTON — West Virginians could yet face a lawsuit for gunning down an intruder in their homes, but using deadly force to protect hearth and home would be a “full and complete defense” in court under a Castle Doctrine bill approved Wednesday.
Without any discussion, other than counsel’s brief explanation, the measure cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously.
For two years, Sen. Shirley Love, D-Fayette, has pushed the idea at the behest of the National Rifle Association, which has succeeded in getting similar bills enacted in 20 other states, starting with Florida.
While existing state law doesn’t require that a homeowner retreat as much as possible to avoid a showdown with an intruder, as some states insist, it does leave open the door to civil suits by a wounded prowler.
Under the committee-approved bill, however, the “justified use of reasonable and proportionate force” can be used as “a full and complete defense to any civil action” pursued by an intruder or attacker.
“People have got to remember, this is not a license to kill,” Love said after the committee, on which he doesn’t serve, moved the measure out with a favorable recommendation.
“This is something that gives you protection in your own home.”
Last year, the full Senate approved an identical bill, but it became mired in the judiciary committee of then-new Chair Carrie Webster, D-Kanawha, in the House of Delegates.
The measure draws its moniker from old English common law that held every citizen, regardless of station in life, could consider his property as a castle, in which, as one old saw held, the wind, but not the king, may enter.
“It’s a bill that a high majority of West Virginians have wanted for so long,” Love said.
In the Senate, the sentiment was unanimous. All 34 members have signed on to it.
“It’s been the intruder that has been protected by the law instead of the home that he’s intruding in,” Love said.
Judiciary Vice Chairman Mike Oliverio, D-Monongalia, pointed out West Virginia enjoys the lowest crime rate in the nation.
“But I think West Virginians really support their Second Amendment rights,” he said.
“And they believe it’s important that they be able to protect themselves. “
Over the years, he said, courts have issued rulings that reflect those constitutional guarantees.
However, Oliverio said a new Supreme Court some day might not see things as the current one does with regard to the Second Amendment.
“There may be changes that impact the ability for persons to protect themselves the way they see fit,” he added.
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