A Man's Home: The Castle Doctrine

It comes down to a simple question...how would you react if someone was trying to enter your home uninvited...and possibly not with the best of intentions?

It all goes back to a saying which came about centuries ago.

"The Castle Doctrine came from English law, based on the saying, 'a man's home is his castle'," says local attorney Bill Richardson. "What is contained in your home is your family, your most precious asset as a human."

But what has come to be known as the Castle Law was enacted just last year, in both West Virginia and Ohio. But the intent was the same: giving citizens the right to defend themselves, including with weapons, to ensure their safety in their own home.

"If you are in your home and someone is breaking into your house, you now have the right to shoot them," says Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks. "But I would also caution people to use due diligence and prudence before you do that."

But what it also does is place the burden of proof on both law enforcement and prosecutors, in a case involving a shooting or shooting death, to prove that the shooter was not acting in self-defense.

"We try to use an open mind, and during the investigative process, we will try to keep in consideration what they said led up to the shooting," says Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy. "But we look at the totality of the evidence, and does it make sense?"

While there have been recent incidents, the claim of self-defense isn't anything new.

In 1981, the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned a local court finding a juvenile committed voluntary manslaughter...citing what it called "the overwhelming evidence of self-defense".

Tuesday on WTAP News at Six and Wednesday on Daybreak, Todd Baucher looks at how self-defense plays a role in another law that's been in effect for several years.

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