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Oct 19, 2015

Maine’s Castle Doctrine

There are few situations more terrifying or intense than being attacked by someone else. Having to resort to using force to defend yourself is something that normal people hope will never happen to them. So much of your future well-being rides on mere seconds of hyper-intense action that doesn’t have a certain outcome.

While all self-defense situations are highly emotional and sometimes even life-defining, defending your own home from an invasion is the most stressful of them all. Because it’s such a stressful moment, with so much at stake, the laws of Maine include one that sets out what you can do, to protect your home.

Nearly all states in the U.S. have a law similar to Maine’s, detailing how a person can justifiably defend their own property. These laws are based on the Castle Doctrine, which originated in the Roman Empire, but got its name in England in the early 1600s, when a British judge said, “a man’s house is his castle, and each man’s home is his safest refuge.”

According to Maine’s Castle Doctrine statute, there are several situations that make it justifiable to use either deadly force, or non-deadly force to protect your house and premises.

The ability to justifiably use non-deadly force is simple, and broad under Maine’s Castle Doctrine. Non-deadly force can be used if you reasonably believe it’s necessary to prevent someone from trespassing, or about to trespass, on your land, private roads, or in any buildings on your land.

The justifiable use of deadly force, on the other hand, is more complex, and much more limited. It can be used when reasonably necessary to prevent an intruder from committing arson on the property, or from committing a crime while inside your home.

However, under Maine’s law, deadly force cannot be used against someone inside your own home until you’ve given them the opportunity to stop their criminal activity, by demanding they stop what they’re doing, and leave the premises. Using deadly force to defend your home is only justified if the intruder doesn’t immediately comply with your demand. With that said, if you reasonably believe that confronting the intruder would put you or someone else in danger, then demanding that the trespasser stop what they’re doing and leave is not necessary before you use deadly force.

The Castle Doctrine tries to strike a balance between your rights as a property owner, and the other guy’s right to “keep breathing”. However, in the heat of the moment, these rationales get thrown out the window, as your emotions and adrenaline start to run high.

Hurting or killing someone in self-defense is a life-changing event. After the actual conflict, you’ll likely face criminal charges, as prosecutors take you to court to test your claim that you were acting in self-defense. This is where having a criminal defense attorney like William T. Bly on your side can be a huge help. Using his nuanced understanding of Maine’s criminal laws and procedures, Mr. Bly can make sure that you don’t get convicted for defending yourself against someone who broke into your own home. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online.

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