What is Georgia’s “Castle Doctrine”?
You are sleeping in your bed in the middle of the night. All of a sudden, you hear a noise. Your heart begins to race, your hair stands on end. There is someone in your house. Do you have the right to protect yourself?
If you live in Georgia, the answer is “yes.” The Castle Doctrine protects homeowners when they find it necessary to protect themselves against an intruder in their home. The law is so named because people consider their homes to be their castles, and people have the right to protect those castles. Other laws, like “Do Not Retreat,” cast a protective umbrella over homeowners who would otherwise be turned into suspects or criminals.
Before these laws were enacted, homeowners had the duty to retreat if at all possible, even when someone was in their home illegally. If you decided to protect your home, you must have been able to prove that you had no way out without putting yourself in potentially life-threatening danger.
Although you are permitted by law to protect yourself and your home, there are exceptions to the laws. If you are sitting in your home and see someone on your property, you are not permitted to utilize deadly force. If, on the other hand, you are sitting in your backyard and an armed person approaches you, you are allowed to defend your life. People also must consider how threatening the person is. For example, if a 110-pound woman breaks into your home and you are a 250-pound man, enacting the Castle Doctrine could be difficult if you cannot prove that your life was in imminent danger.
No matter the situation, it is the district attorney who must determine whether or not charges will be filed against a homeowner who defends themselves on their own property.
If you have been arrested for a crime like burglary in Atlanta, you need an experienced lawyer you can trust. Call Hawkins Spizman Fortas to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your arrest and charges and advise you of your options.