Castle Doctrine Clarification

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Publication: The New American
Date published: April 9, 2012

KY3 News out of Springfield, Missouri, reported on January 3 1 that Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson expressed concern after a series of recent incidents. To Patterson's dismay, private citizens actually stopped burglaries in progress and held the criminals at gunpoint until the authorities could arrive. Chad Woosley, a man who detained a burglar at his brother's house, told KY3 News, "I was fortunate that it turned out like it did. I guess I was prepared to do what I had to do.... I did already have my gun drawn. I started yelling for him to get on the floor." Another citizen's arrest occurred when two brothers-in-law encountered three intruders on a vacant property belonging to another family member. The brothers-inlaw armed themselves by grabbing a gun and a machete and then ordered the wouldbe criminals to get down on the ground. In both cases, the authorities apprehended the suspects without incident as soon as they arrived.

Despite the relatively peaceful nature of these arrests, Prosecutor Patterson was nervous about vigilantism and decided to give the public a little talk on the Missouri castle doctrine law, which was updated in 2007 to extend the right to defend yourself or others beyond the home to include your car or a business you own. Patterson warned citizens that the new modifications are not a blanket permission to shoot intruders, even though no intruders were shot in the examples mentioned. Patterson did, however, correctly make the point to remind citizens that you still need to be in danger or threatened to use deadly force. "No piece of property is worth risking your life or another person's over.... If you were to drive up to your house and you were to see an intruder running away with a big-screen TV in their arms, you could not use deadly force to protect and retrieve that property. In that situation, there was no threat posed to you or your person."

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