Archive for January, 2009

The intruders were allegedly trying to steal marijuana that the homeowner was growing:

Lt. Gary Trupe, coordinator for the Potter-Randall Special Crimes Unit, said Monday that the home was targeted because of marijuana plants that were being grown there.

Arcay and the roommate are now wanted by police for possession of 25 to 35 marijuana plants. The charges against Arcay and his roommate, possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone, are state felonies.

“The suspects targeted this house and the occupants repeatedly to steal marijuana they knew was in the house,” Trupe said. “We still feel, though, whatever was going on in that house, the occupants were justified in the force they used.”

I don’t want to open debate about the propriety of marijuana criminalization laws.  But there is an idea that has lived on from the principles of courts of equity which I think might have some application here.  (more…)

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BBgadgets points out this lovely Obama chia pet.

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I realize the insanity of trusting Wikipedia for any kind of exhaustive legal analysis.  But they’ve got a great list, and the list (for the most part) links to the relevant statutes.  If I was really going to be serious about this I’d take the time to look up state murder law for all 50 states on Westlaw and verify that the states listed have some version of a justifiable homicide excuse for people in their own homes.  But for now, Wikipedia will have to do.

Here is the updated list of the states which have adopted some form of Castle Doctrine law, as of June 21 2008.

Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

Check the Wikipedia page for updates and for the distinction between “no duty to retreat” states vs. “no duty to retreat in your own home.”  There is obviously a difference.

And just for giggles, here’s a link to a castle doctrine map from the NRA.  There is no date attached to this map so I have no idea how current it is- for example, they’ve got Ohio but they’re missing Utah and Hawaii so it’s not immediately clear when the NRA map was created or what it represents.

Remember, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice- if you’re wondering whether you can shoot a home intruder in your state, this represents what I think is a pretty good guess, but you certainly shouldn’t bet your life on it.

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This one has a Joe Horn mention.  I guess the lesson is, if you want to gun down random people in Texas, you have to claim that you felt threatened.  It’s probably not enough to say you did it because they were stealing someone else’s stuff.

A Kingsland man Wednesday was indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide after the district attorney said he misunderstood the state’s so-called “castle law.”  [. . . ]

Oakes says he thought Rowe was breaking into his neighbor’s home. Attorneys say the law allowing homeowners to use deadly force to protect their own homes does not apply in this case.

“The castle doctrine refers to your own castle. Not somebody else’s. You can’t take weapons and start hunting down people that you think did something wrong,” said Keith Hampton, criminal defense attorney.

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The unfortunate thing about bright-line rules is that sometimes they give you an answer that you’re not going to like.

In most other states, police would have taken Malik in to answer a few questions. Certainly that’s not an unreasonable request, especially if someone’s dead.

Not so in Alabama.

The legislature approved a strict version of the so-called Castle Doctrine in 2006, which basically means that home­owners are immune from criminal prosecution and civil wrongful-death lawsuits if they kill someone who has come into their home uninvited.

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Here’s a short editorial blurb about a home-invasion shooting that will probably be excused by the Texas castle doctrine law.  The writer seems unapologetically in favor of shooting people to protect property.  The second comment on the article, however, is what’s really priceless:

I would blow someone away if they were dumb enough to try to break in my house. There was once, right after we moved in, that some deranged fool tried crawling through one of our windows at night but rethought his action when my husband pumped his shot gun. I work hard for everything I have and certainly don’t buy nice things so people can steal them. MATERIAL THINGS MATTER.

That’s the kind of thinking that will get these laws dialed back a bit.  I doubt the TX legislature drew this law up because they wanted to appease a bunch of trigger-happy homeowners who were just itching for an excuse to shoot people.

Here’s a link to a news story about the actual shooting.

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From the AP text:

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Both Republicans and Democrats in the Montana Legislature agree that homeowners need absolute certainty that it is OK to gun down intruders.

But that doesn’t mean there is any guarantee that various versions of so-called “castle doctrine” self-defense legislation will clear a closely divided Legislature.

The bills all aim to clarify that homeowners don’t have an obligation to first run away while under assault in their home.

But Republicans have their own bills brewing, and are gathering the backing of gun groups.

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