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Does California Have a Castle Doctrine?

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A man’s home is his castle,” but do California homeowners have any legal rights to protect their castle, their family, and their belongings in it? The castle doctrine, also known as the castle law, the stand your ground law, or make my day law, gives citizens the right to protect themselves and their homes with force, and in some states, they’re allowed to use deadly force.

The castle laws vary nationwide, so homeowners must pay attention to their state laws, especially if they own firearms or move to a different state. In one state a homeowner may be protected legally if they use deadly force against an intruder, but in another state the exact same actions can mean the homeowner is prosecuted for manslaughter or murder.


The states with strong castle doctrine or stand your ground laws, include: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington. If you notice, California is not listedas one of the states with a “strong castle doctrine” law. This is because California has a softer castle doctrine law.

Can Californians Use Deadly Force?

Unlike states with a stronger castle doctrine law, California does not give homeowners much leeway when it comes to protecting their personal property. However, Section 198.5 does let California residents use deadly force when they have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of their household” when someone unlawfully enters their residence.

California’s version of the castle doctrine only protects people in the home, but it does not extend to vehicles or places of employment. Thus, with active shooters scenarios becoming more common in the workplace, innocent employees should learn more about their rights and legal protections under California’s self-defense laws.

Related: Criminal Cases & the Burden of Production

Accused of a violent crime against someone who unlawfully entered your residence? For a strong defense, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. today!