Letter: Castle Doctrine proposal would create multiple problemsThe proposal known as the Castle Doctrine, House File 1467, is not about your right to defend yourself in your home. The Minnesota Supreme Court acknowledged that there is no duty to retreat inside your home in State v Pendleton, C6-95-2162, Supreme Court, Aug. 7, 1997.
By: Thomas Weyandt, White Bear Lake, Worthington Daily Globe
The proposal known as the Castle Doctrine, House File 1467, is not about your right to defend yourself in your home. The Minnesota Supreme Court acknowledged that there is no duty to retreat inside your home in State v Pendleton, C6-95-2162, Supreme Court, Aug. 7, 1997. But the real dangers in HF1467 are the unrealized expansion of where and when deadly force can be used, the presumptions that are contained in the law and the immunities.
The proposal lowers the standard so that deadly force can be used if a person fears substantial bodily harm. Current law requires that it be great bodily arm or death. The proposal allows for the use of deadly force if the victim is outside his home, in his car or boat, or in a tent. This section could easily be interpreted to mean that the right exists wherever a person is in fear of harm. It negates the duty to retreat in all those circumstances.
The proposal allows for the use of deadly force if a “forcible felony” is threatened. I think that means that a person who would be guilty today of terroristic threats could be killed. The proposal creates a presumption that the fear is reasonable. The current law requires that the jury determine whether the fear is reasonable. The proposal requires that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect’s actions were not justified.
Given all these provisions, that is a virtually impossible burden for the state. The burden current does not fall on the state until the defendant has proven that the claim of self-defense has merit. The proposal prohibits police from arresting the suspect until the police can determine that all claims of self-defense are without merit. I find it difficult to understand how any meaningful investigation can occur if the suspect cannot be brought in for examination and questioning.
Cases involving self-defense are very fact-specific and without a detailed investigation, the facts simply cannot be gathered. The proposal provides for criminal immunity in cases of self- defense. The proposal provides for civil immunity in cases of self-defense. The proposal allows for continued use of deadly force until the threat has been eliminated. I think that means you can shoot until the gun is empty. It may even allow you to reload.
We don’t need to create problems by accepting the provisions of HF 1467.