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S.F. No. 72 - Castle Doctrine
 
Author: Senator Carrie Ruud
 
Prepared By: Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
 
Date: January 15, 2020



 

Section 1 contains the provision commonly known as the “Castle Doctrine.”  This section changes current law relating to the justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense.  Under current law (which is stricken in this section), the intentional taking of the life of another is not justified “except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode.”

Subdivision 1 defines the following terms used in this section:  “court order,” “deadly force,” “dwelling,” “forcible felony,” “good faith,” “great bodily harm,” “imminent,” “substantial bodily harm,” and “vehicle.”

Subdivision 2 provides that the use of deadly force by an individual is justified:

  • to resist or prevent a commission of a felony in the individual's dwelling; 
  • to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is an offense or an attempted offense that imminently exposes the individual or another person to substantial or great bodily harm or death; or
  • to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony.

Provides that the use of deadly force is not authorized if the individual knows that the person against whom the force is being used is a peace officer acting lawfully. 

Subdivision 3 authorizes an individual taking defensive action under subdivision 2 to use all force and means, including deadly force, that the individual in good faith believes is required to succeed in defense.  Authorizes the individual to meet force with superior force when the individual's objective is defensive.  The individual is not required to retreat, and may continue defensive actions against an assailant until the danger has ended.

Subdivision 4 provides that a person using deadly force is presumed to possess a reasonable belief that there exists an imminent threat of substantial or great bodily harm or death if the person knows or has reason to know that:

  • the individual against whom the action is taken is unlawfully entering or attempting to enter by force or stealth, or has unlawfully entered by force or stealth and remains within, the dwelling or occupied vehicle of the person; or
  • the individual against whom the action is taken is in the process of removing, or attempting to remove, the person or another from the dwelling or occupied vehicle.

Provides that the presumption does not apply if a person knows that the individual against whom the action is being taken:

  • is a lawful resident of the dwelling or lawful possessor of the vehicle, or is otherwise lawfully permitted to enter the dwelling or vehicle; or
  • is someone who has lawful custody of the person being removed or whose removal is being attempted. 

Provides that a person prohibited by court order from contacting another or entering a dwelling or possessing a vehicle is not a lawful resident or possessor.

Provides that the presumption does not apply if the individual: (1) is presently engaged in a crime or attempting to escape from the scene of a crime, or is presently using the dwelling or occupied vehicle in furtherance of a crime; or (2) knows or has reason to know that the person against whom the forced is used is a peace officer acting lawfully.

Subdivision 5 provides criminal immunity for persons who use force, including deadly force, under this section or as otherwise provided by law.  Allows law enforcement to arrest a person using force under this section only after considering any claims or circumstances supporting self-defense or lawful defense of another individual.

Subdivision 6 provides that the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant's actions were not justifiable in a criminal trial when there is any evidence of justifiable use of force under this section or section 609.06.

Subdivision 7 provides the title of the provision.  

 
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