A ‘Walking Dead’ Lesson On Castle Doctrine

castle doctrine walking deadA castle doctrine (also known as a castle law or a defense of habitation law) is a legal doctrine that designates a person’s abode (or, in some states, any legally-occupied place [e.g., a vehicle or workplace]) as a place in which that person has certain protections and immunities permitting him or her, in certain circumstances, to use force (up to and including deadly force) to defend themselves against an intruder, free from legal responsibility/prosecution for the consequences of the force used.

Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases “when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to him or herself or another”.

While Social Darwinism is king and the “rule of law” is non-existent in The Walking Dead universe, the castle doctrine is nevertheless seen in full effect during the Governor’s final assault on the peaceful prison community. Even the mentally unhinged pre-teen, Lizzie Samuels, takes up arms to defend her home and it’s fellow residents from the murderous intruders, feeling no immediate duty to retreat and saving the life of Tyreese in the process.

Typical conditions that apply to some castle doctrine laws include:

  • An intruder must be making an attempt (or have made) an attempt to unlawfully or forcibly enter an occupied residence, business, or vehicle.
  • The intruder must be acting unlawfully (the castle doctrine does not allow a right to use force against officers of the law, acting in the course of their legal duties).
  • The occupant(s) of the home must reasonably believe the intruder intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon an occupant of the home. Some states apply the Castle Doctrine if the occupant(s) of the home reasonably believe the intruder intends to commit a lesser felony such as arson or burglary.
  • The occupant(s) of the home must not have provoked or instigated an intrusion; or, provoked/instigated an intruder’s threat or use of deadly force.

That’s a check, check, check, and check for team prison. So take up arms, don’t retreat unless you have to, and remember that “gun control” is learning to hit your target. (Lizzie succeeded where many adults failed.)