Missouri Stand Your Ground Case Further Questions California’s “Castle Doctrine” (CA Penal Code 198.5)

In both Missouri and California, there are ‘stand your ground’ laws.  These provisions are meant to protect you from persons who are threatening you on your own property and are meant to preserve natural liberties (like the right to life, liberty, and property).  Recently, not only the Trayvon Martin debacle, but also a Missouri case has caused everyone to take a good hard look at ‘stand your ground’ laws, including Californians.

Recently, Missouri resident (name withheld for privacy), had enough of the loud, littering tourists that frequented his stretch of property along the Meramec River.  The moment he ‘snapped’ was when he found a Robertsville man attempting to urinate on a gravel bar in his well-kept lawn.  Crocker got his gun, started shooting, and ended up killing Dart there on the scene.  Now he faces second-degree murder charges.

Though the state of California has had what could be called ‘stand your ground’ laws for hundreds of years, many have argued that this is the incorrect terminology.  And they’re correct.  What California does have is something called the “castle doctrine” (CA Penal Code 198.5), in which deadly force is justified against someone who is attempting to enter your home (and there is a reasonable amount of danger of bodily injury).  Importantly, however, though this language is not present in the California state constitution, nor in the actual laws, juries are allowed to consider a ‘stand your ground’ defense in certain cases, only those in which the person is attempting to defend themselves and has not started the altercation themselves.  In other words, if this case were to be tried in California, and not Missouri, then the outcome might be very different indeed.  However, he also claims to have been hit quite seriously in the head with several rocks before shooting; thus, a jury will have to decide his fate.