Castle Doctrine

The laws governing the legal use, storage, carrying and transporting of firearms are constantly changing. Below are the applicable laws in the State of as of 7/24/2013. The below information is designed to be a guide and not the final word. If you have specific questions, please refer to Deleware legislation at delcode.delaware.gov.  If you have any specific questions concerning Castle Doctrine/Self-Defense laws in any state, American Firearms Training recommends contacting an attorney.

The Castle Doctrine (also known as Castle Law, Defense of Habitat Law) are state legal defense laws that gives citizens in their homes/abode, and in some states, cars or workplaces the right to protect themselves, other people, and their property by force, in some instances even deadly force without the consequences of legal and possibly civil responsibility or criminal persecution. A Castle Doctrine also states that a person has no “duty of retreat” (avoid the conflict at all cost) when one’s home/abode is under attack.

The State of Delaware technically speaking does not have a "Castle Law."  It does however have self-defense laws that require no “duty of retreat” in very restricted circumstances.  These laws can be viewed below.

§ 464. Justification -- Use of force in self-protection.

(a) The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the defendant believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting the defendant against the use of unlawful force by the other person on the present occasion.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, a person employing protective force may estimate the necessity thereof under the circumstances as the person believes them to be when the force is used, without retreating, surrendering possession, doing any other act which the person has no legal duty to do or abstaining from any lawful action.

(c) The use of deadly force is justifiable under this section if the defendant believes that such force is necessary to protect the defendant against death, serious physical injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat.

(d) The use of force is not justifiable under this section to resist an arrest which the defendant knows or should know is being made by a peace officer, whether or not the arrest is lawful.

(e) The use of deadly force is not justifiable under this section if:

   (1) The defendant, with the purpose of causing death or serious physical injury, provoked the use of force against the defendant in the same encounter; or

   (2) The defendant knows that the necessity of using deadly force can be avoided with complete safety by retreating, by surrendering possession of a thing to a person asserting a claim of right thereto or by complying with a demand that the defendant          abstain from performing an act which the defendant is not legally obligated to perform except that:

     a. The defendant is not obliged to retreat in or from the defendant's dwelling; and

     b. The defendant is not obliged to retreat in or from the defendant's place of work, unless the defendant was the initial aggressor; and

     c. A public officer justified in using force in the performance of the officer's duties, or a person justified in using force in assisting an officer or a person justified in using force in making an arrest or preventing an escape, need not desist from efforts to            perform the duty or make the arrest or prevent the escape because of resistance or threatened resistance by or on behalf of the person against whom the action is directed.

§ 465. Justification -- Use of force for the protection of other persons.

(a) The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable to protect a third person when:

   (1) The defendant would have been justified under § 464 of this title in using such force to protect the defendant against the injury the defendant believes to be threatened to the person whom the defendant seeks to protect; and

   (2) Under the circumstances as the defendant believes them to be, the person whom the defendant seeks to protect would have been justified in using such protective force; and

   (3) The defendant believes that intervention is necessary for the protection of the other person.

(b) Although the defendant would have been obliged under § 464 of this title to retreat, to surrender the possession of a thing or to comply with a demand before using force in self-protection, there is no obligation to do so before using force for the protection of another person, unless the defendant knows that the defendant can thereby secure the complete safety of the other person.

(c) When the person whom the defendant seeks to protect would have been obliged under § 464 of this title to retreat, to surrender the possession of a thing or to comply with a demand if the person knew that the person could obtain complete safety by so doing, the defendant is obliged to try to cause the person to do so before using force in the person's protection if the actor knows that complete safety can be secured in that way.

(d) Neither the defendant nor the person whom the defendant seeks to protect is obliged to retreat when in the other's dwelling or place of work to any greater extent than in their own.

§ 466. Justification -- Use of force for the protection of property.

(a) The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the defendant believes that such force is immediately necessary:

   (1) To prevent the commission of criminal trespass or burglary in a building or upon real property in the defendant's possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection the defendant acts; or

   (2) To prevent entry upon real property in the defendant's possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection the defendant acts; or

   (3) To prevent theft, criminal mischief or any trespassory taking of tangible, movable property in the defendant's possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection the defendant acts.

(b) The defendant may in the circumstances named in subsection (a) of this section use such force as the defendant believes is necessary to protect the threatened property, provided that the defendant first requests the person against whom force is used to desist from interference with the property, unless the defendant believes that:

   (1) Such a request would be useless; or

   (2) It would be dangerous to the defendant or another person to make the request; or

   (3) Substantial harm would be done to the physical condition of the property which is sought to be protected before the request could effectively be made.

(c) The use of deadly force for the protection of property is justifiable only if the defendant believes that:

   (1) The person against whom the force is used is attempting to dispossess the defendant of the defendant's dwelling otherwise than under a claim of right to its possession; or

   (2) The person against whom the deadly force is used is attempting to commit arson, burglary, robbery or felonious theft or property destruction and either:

     a. Had employed or threatened deadly force against or in the presence of the defendant; or

     b. Under the circumstances existing at the time, the defendant believed the use of force other than deadly force would expose the defendant, or another person in the defendant's presence, to the reasonable likelihood of serious physical injury.

(d) Where a person has used force for the protection of property and has not been convicted for any crime or offense connected with that use of force, such person shall not be liable for damages or be otherwise civilly liable to the one against whom such force was used.

If you would like to see a Castle Law in your state, please contact your local Congress representative.  For a list of Delaware districts and representatives, please visit govtrack.us.

If you have questions about our course, feel free to email us at info@shootsafe.org.  Make sure you include your name, the state whose permit you are pursuing, and if you need a call back, a phone number.  We're happy to help.