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When is the use of force justified?

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2020 | blog |

Like most people in North Carolina, you certainly hope to never find yourself in a situation where a physical altercation may arise. At the same time, however, you recognize that there are circumstances in which you may feel compelled (out of a sense of self-preservation or basic decency) to act. 

If and when such a scenario arises, the question then becomes when (and to what extent) do authorities consider such action lawful. Knowing this may prove the difference in defending yourself against baseless claims of assault. 

Knowing when you can stand your ground

Most states’ self-defense laws find their roots in a legal principle known as “stand your ground.” This basically stipulates that you have no duty to retreat from a potential threat in certain situations. Some states apply this philosophy liberally, allowing their citizens to use defensive force in any situation when they reasonably feel threatened. However, North Carolina is among many states who limit the “stand your ground philosophy by subscribing to a similar legal principle known as “the Castle Doctrine.” 

This principle (derived from the age-old assertion that one’s home is their proverbial castle), allows you to use defensive force to stop unwanted intrusions into your home,  vehicle or place of business. 

Reviewing North Carolina’s self-defense laws

Indeed, Section 14-51.2 of North Carolina’s Criminal Law code states that authorities presume you to have had a fear of suffering serious injury or death if one was attempting to unlawfully enter (or forcefully remove you from) your home, car or office. In such a situation, the law warrants your use of force (if necessary, even deadly force) in response. There are limitations to this privilege, however. For example, you cannot use force against one who has a lawful right to be in a location, and you cannot use it against a police officer attempting to do their duty.