The rules regarding in home invasion shootings differ from state to state. Many states have adopted laws called "The Castle Doctrine," which reduces the liability of the homeowner if they kill or injure someone who has broken into their home. In the past, the homeowner had to feel that his life was being threatened before he was able to shoot an intruder. Under the Castle Doctrine, the threat level has been reduced, and the homeowner has a much greater latitude in defending his home. An intruder that has broken into the home is assumed to have planned to do serious harm or to kill those inside. The actual act of a deadly threat does not have to exist for the homeowner to shoot the intruder.

States that currently have the Castle Doctrine in effect include Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Main, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There are states that uphold the Castle Doctrine idea, but still rely on case law and may enforce a "duty to retreat." Those states include the District of Columbia, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, and Vermont.

In states that do not recognize any type of Castle Doctrine, the same rules apply that would restrict your use of deadly force in public. If you were to shoot an unarmed burglar in the back in one of those states, chances are you would be charged with a crime.

This doesn’t mean that you can shoot someone that is entering your home if you know there is no threat. You can’t plug your neighbor friend who has just knocked and entered your side door like they have done on many other occasions. Even if you mistake them for an intruder, you are probably looking at charges being filed against you. The home invasion laws were designed to protect homeowners against viable threats to the occupants of the home.

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