Defense of Habitation Law and Legal Definition

Defense of Habitation is based on the English Common Law provision that one's home is one's "castle". This popular yet controversial law justifies a person whose home is under attack to use force upon the attacker. According to this defense, an occupant is justified in using deadly force in defending their place of residence, as well as any innocent occupants legally inside it, from violence or from an intrusion that may lead to violence. Therefore if an aggressor unjustifiably threatens the defendant's place of abode or premises and the defendant engages in conduct that is harmful to the aggressor, sufficient to protect that place of abode or premises, and reasonable in relation to the harm threatened, then this defense justifies such conduct constituting a criminal offense. Defense of Habitation is popularly known as the Castle Doctrine. It is also termed as defense of premises. Interpretation of this doctrine or defense varies from state to state as each state has its own Castle laws. Each state differs in the specific instances to which the Castle Doctrine applies, as well as the degree of retreat or resistance required before deadly force is permissible. In general, there are several specific conditions which must be met before this defense can be applied.