Does New Jersey Observe the Castle Doctrine?

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Defense of yourself or of your property can be a controversial topic, but why is this? Stand your laws offer an alternative, but what is the perspective of New Jersey toward these laws? Keep reading to find out, as well as to understand how New Jersey permits self-defense via the castle doctrine. If you have been charged with a crime, don’t hesitate to contact a Bergen County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

What Are Stand Your Ground Laws?

Stand your ground laws are an affirmative defense. If someone attacked another person, they may argue that while their attack did occur, they themselves were initially under threat and moved to defend themselves or their property.

The concept, perhaps reasonable in an abstract void of history, becomes problematic when viewed through the historical sociological dynamics in the United States. While it is viewed by those on the right as a necessity, progressives argue that a breezy approach to self-defense is so predominant in this country due to a history of white authorities looking the other way when marginalized identities were assaulted and killed.

Castle Doctrine and Duty to Retreat in New Jersey

This then gives way to New Jersey’s approach to self-defense. New Jersey recognizes a duty to retreat: people typically have a duty to de-escalate or separate themselves from a dangerous situation. Within this framework, New Jersey also recognizes justifications for using force in self-defense, in defense of others, and in defense of property.

According to New Jersey Revised Statute Section 2C:3-4, when someone reasonably believes it is necessary to protect themselves, they are allowed to use force.

The castle doctrine expands on this by removing the duty to retreat if someone trespasses onto your property, unless certain exceptions exist. New Jersey law requires homeowners to tell intruders to leave their property unless it would be dangerous or pointless. Similarly, New Jersey castle doctrine does not justify the use of deadly force unless certain situations present themselves, such as having your life threatened.

New Jersey, then, strongly favors de-incentivizing the use of deadly force and instead encourages conflict de-escalation. Whether someone is legally allowed to use castle doctrine as an affirmative defense can be complicated. One might argue, however, that stand your ground laws encourage using force when one feels threatened perhaps too freely.

Call a Bergen County Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

The law affects every part of our lives, and larger scale debates such as how much force can be used in which situations bring to bear the heavy weight of history on us when we may least expect. It is in this moment that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can bring their knowledge to the problem. A criminal defense lawyer can help us, and help judges who are deciding our future when we are charged with a crime, understand how to look at the circumstances in our lives.

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