Can you shoot someone in their home in Missouri?

MISSOURI — Twenty states have castle doctrines, while even more have stand-your-ground laws, but what constitutes legal self-defense may still differ in those states.

For Missouri, both the castle doctrine and the stand-your-ground statute permit using deadly force to protect oneself (or a third party, with exceptions) if a person deems it necessary. However, this “necessary” part is often not made clear and warrants a breakdown of the terminology.

Missouri Castle Doctrine Law

The “Schlosslehre” is not a defined law that one can invoke, but rather a set of principles that go into the defense of one’s person on one’s own or leased real estate and the defense of this real estate (e.g. vehicles, the apartment itself) or third parties (family) who were also present at the time of the threat.

Simply shooting an intruder on your property can result in criminal charges, as not all intruders are violent; The resident must first face a threat. According to Revised Missouri Statutes 563.031:

[Protective] Force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence or vehicle lawfully occupied by that person.

lock gauge does Protect guests in a home being broken into if they use deadly force. But if a residence is broken into to which you were not invited, according to castle doctrine, you cannot use deadly force against that intruder.

Missouri Stand Your Ground Act

Stand-Your-Ground laws roughly define how a person can defend themselves when faced with an imminent threat somewhere else; Imminent is a keyword here, because threatening words to a defense attorney can also lead to a justified homicide. But words made days or weeks ago cannot be traded in self-defense.

Stand Your Ground States do not require the defending actor to retreat or move away from the situation before applying defensive power. In contrast, some states, such as Arkansas, have a “duty to withdraw” when in public before defending themselves.

Recent Developments

Last February, Senate Bill 666, sponsored by US Rep. Eric Burlison, would have strengthened Missouri’s Stand Your Ground Act, essentially awarding shooters who act in self-defense the benefit of the doubt, thereby shifting the burden of proof and forcing the police to do so would have a probable cause before you arrest them.

The bill was heavily criticized by law enforcement and other lawmakers, who eventually dubbed it the Make Murder Legal Act. It would die by a vote of 4 to 3 in the Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Public Safety. Can you shoot someone in their home in Missouri?

Sarah Y. Kim

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