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Does California Have a Castle Doctrine?

Can Californians Use Deadly Force?

Yes. Under Section 198.5, California allows residents to use deadly force if there is an intruder in the home that causes a reasonable fear of death or bodily injury to themselves or a family member. This is known as a "Castle Doctrine."

Castle Doctrines Vary by State

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A man’s home is his castle.” 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.

Does California's Castle Doctrine Apply to Personal Property?

Unlike states with a stronger castle doctrine law, California does not give homeowners much leeway when it comes to protecting their personal property. 

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.


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.

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!