Castle Doctrine and Garages


June 11, 2004, 08:33 PM
Many states, mine included, recognize the Castle Doctrine. One has a right to feel secure in his or her home and to defend it with lethal force.

In Oklahoma the way the law is written if some one enters your home unlawfully the law considers that person is there to do you bodily harm and you can use force up to and including lethal force to eliminate the threat. We take that pretty seriously here. In the 17 years I've lived in OK I can remember only two cases in OKC where a home owner was charged as a result of shooting an intruder and in both of those cases the home owner basicly set up the intruder.

QUESTION (and I wonder why I never considered this before): Does an attached garage count as part of the Castle? If I hear someone rooting around in my garage which I can enter from my kitchen (there's also an air conditionin/heating vent in there) and I confront them and shoot them does the castle doctrine apply? My reloading bench is in the garage. If I'm sitting there minding my own business and someone pops open the garage door with intent to rob me is he invading my Castle. Are the circumstances different enough that the first situation might not apply to the castle doctrine and the 2nd would or both would not because the entry was into the garage? Would it be the same as shooting the intruder in the driveway (which in OK would get one in big trouble - unless one was in fear of one's life of course and your attacker had means, opportunity and intent).

I've hunted thru OK law using variousl search engines but cannot find an answer to the above question.

What do y'all think? Any OK lawyers on THR with an opinion? What about other states?

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June 12, 2004, 09:28 AM

Someone must know whether attached garages are considered a part of the Castle???

June 12, 2004, 09:36 AM
Interesting question. Sorry, but I don't know the answer. I suspect it depends very much on individual State laws, and is probably one of those things that will be settled only in court if you have to shoot somebody in your garage and are charged with something.

One thing I learned as an LEO is that there are often no definitive answers to some situations until a court rules on them.

Greg L
June 12, 2004, 09:48 AM
I would assume so (& my assumptions are worth exactly what they cost you ;) ) as it is attached to the house so it essentially one contiguous unit. If you didn't lock the interior door he could just walk into the house itself (I know I don't lock the interior door leading from my garage into my kitchen as I figured that the perimeter is secure).


June 12, 2004, 09:58 AM
In AZ, yes. In your state, check with a competetant attorney.

June 12, 2004, 11:08 AM
My approach to hearing someone rooting around in my attached garage would be:

1. Arm myself
2. Turn on the light in the garage from inside my home.
3. Watch the person run away through the peephole in my door.

In Ohio, we have a "duty to retreat" law. Though you don't have to retreat in your own home, I think a judge or jury would frown upon you leaving your safe position behind closed doors to go shoot somebody. - Not sayin' it's right, just sayin' how it is. :(

June 12, 2004, 11:26 AM
Build a castle wall around your property.

Then anything inside the wall is fair game.


June 12, 2004, 01:12 PM
Build a castle wall around your property.

Then anything inside the wall is fair game.

Ah, yes. With boiling oil cauldrons, murder holes, and perhaps a few GPHMG mounts... it'd be the envy of all your neighbors. ;-)

June 12, 2004, 01:26 PM
I wouldn't see why it wouldn't include the garage and possibly detached out buildings.

After all, castles were more than just living quarters. They had work and storage areas associated with them.

Baba Louie
June 12, 2004, 02:35 PM
Did the bad guy get past the alligator filled moat and breach the castle walls? IS he threatening your life by being in your garage? Were you IN the garage when he entered or did you have to go from point A to point B to seek him out, outside your inner keep walls -or- did you happen to run into him while chasing your neighbor's noisy cat from the garage at 3:00 a.m. while carrying your weapon in your pajama holster pouch/thunderwear? (darn those noisy neighborhood garage-getting-into cats anyway... I wasn't planning on shooting the cat, I just happen to like sleeping in my thunderwear... Really Officer! :D )
At what point did you switch from a defensive life threatening scenario to a hunter seeker role?
Here in Las Vegas I can think of at least two instances where the homeowners were IN their garages when the home (garage) invasion took place and these were billed clean shoots. YMMV
You might want to ask these or similar questions to one of your local ass't DA types and see what response they have to offer, since it'll eventually be their call.

June 12, 2004, 03:23 PM
If it is attached I would believe that it is, otherwise portions of houses such as basements could also be excluded and that would seeem to violate the intent of the concept.

If it is not attached I doubt that it is considered as part of the home. However, ordinary concepts of self defense and the defense of other could apply. At common law, structures in which people sleep typically have a higher level of defensibility for lack of a better word than structures which are only temporarily occupied.

Just to make it more complex, the concepts of curtilege and open fields would seem to imbue more than just the home with special status. For example, if you live on a 1,000 acre farm, you are much more likely to be able to justify using force to defend those areas immediately surrounding the home, such as a barn on the same lot, than you would the most remote portion of the property.

Note that I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

June 12, 2004, 04:47 PM
What decorations for the castle wall?

You know those signs that have a picture of a dog and say "I can make it to the fence in 3 seconds, can you?"

How about one with a bullet on it that says "I can make it to the fence in .00005 Seconds, can you?":p

June 12, 2004, 06:43 PM
If you go read the law and read some court decisions you will learn that "it depends" is a way of life in these things.

Now for your example where you are in the garage and it gets invaded, the garage is your current castle.

Now if you are single and have no one you care for in the house, like kids or parents or whatever, and your house gets invaded, guess what? You are expected to exit your garage and run away in many states since the house is not your castle.

Now I live in ohio which has many sucky things like the already mentioned retreat concept. One lawyer I talked to basically said that if you had made a safe room and did not try to get to it during a home invasion, then something might be made of that. About like some of the folks who carry pepper spray and a gun and then don't use the pepper spray.

Things get really odd if you ask about a strong smell of gas coming from that attached garage. And then mention that you have young kids in the house or a handicapped parent you care for. Suddenly it becomes more than if you can reach safety.

Basically all I take for granted is that my castle is where I am already. So since I have a detached barn, that is my castle if I am there. And if someone attacks my house, I must remember that the house is not the castle per the letter of the law.

Your question is why some folks buy that insurance that is for folks who ccw and what not. There is no gaurantee due to how the current courts interpret laws and even then, you can be sued by the criminals family.

June 12, 2004, 07:10 PM
Yes. What if some BG stuck a gun in your face while you were parking the car. Are you in "sanctuary?" I would say: YES.

June 12, 2004, 07:49 PM
Why do I suddenly feel the urge to build a trebuchet?

Roadkill Coyote
June 13, 2004, 07:10 AM
I am not a lawyer, but this is my meager understanding.

I don't know of an Oklahoma case involving the garage issue. However, Oklahoma's statute was based on Colorado's, and Colorado cases have been accepted as precedent in Oklahoma appeals (specifically in the first big make-my-day case up in Garfeild County). Here in Colorado, the intruder must be within the walls of the house. That would include an enclosed porch, or attached garage, but not an open porch or detached garage. Common areas of a multi-dwelling building, such as the halls and stairwells of an apartment building are not covered. I believe the most relevant case, the one that covered the within the walls bit had to do with a shooting on a porch, up around Pueblo.

June 13, 2004, 10:28 PM
Also not a lawyer, but keep in mind that you asked two questions. If you are IN the garage and a BG pops the door and surprises you while you're working, I rather expect that the castle doctrine (if your state has one) would work, especially if the BG was blocking your path of retreat.

But that's a very different case from being in the living room, hearing a noise in the garage, and opening the door. If your state has a duty to retreat clause, I would expect that the "spin" would be that your first recourse should be to slam and lock the kitchen door. Then if the BG attempts to bust the door you would probably have justification to use lethal force.

June 13, 2004, 10:36 PM
The law in Coplorado covers your porch under their castle doctrine. There was a case not long ago of a man who shot another on his own porch after the man broke out the glass, under the "Make My Day" law he was cleared.
Why do I suddenly feel the urge to build a trebuchet? Why do I suddenly feel the urge to look up trebuchet in the dictionary

June 14, 2004, 12:57 AM

A trebuchet is a medieval rock chucker, a siege engine, that used a sling on the end of a long, weighted arm, to throw rocks and the like.

It's similar to a catapult, but a catapult used wound skeins of animal sinew or other fiber as essentially huge elastic bands to power an arm with a basket on the end.

Here's a decent image of a catapult:

Roadkill Coyote
June 14, 2004, 01:05 AM
Joab, the case your referring to is the one that I mentioned earlier. The intruder was in the process of entering the walls of the dwelling by way of a window. The issue was not walking onto an open porch, it was the walls of the dwelling, whether it be an enclosed porch, or attached garage. Equally obvious, an open porch without walls would not have made the cut.

June 14, 2004, 01:12 AM
to throw rocks and the like

Sounds like the ultimate home defense weapon to me. What load do you recommend ...? :D

OTOH .... I can think of some other uses: like maybe launching some certain anti-gun politicians :p Why waste a projectile on a target, when you can use your target for a projectile? :D

Roadkill Coyote
June 14, 2004, 02:07 AM
Upon reflection, we may not be talking about the same case. Are you talking about a case that got to court, or one of several incidents that weren't prosecuted? There was one in Weld County late last year in which a homeowner shot a guy that was trying to pound his way through the front door with a two by four.

June 14, 2004, 08:55 AM

Roadkill Coyote
It's possible that we are referring to the same case
A man alledgedly shot a neighbors yap dog with a BB gun. The owner of the dog came over with a stick of some sort and broke out the front window of the front door and the home opwner shot him with a 12ga.
The prosecutor refused to bring charges and stated that under the law porches were included under the "Make My Day" law.
It will take some searching when I officially get home from work ( I'm actually on the clock now, field work is great) but I think I still have the links somewhere
This is the best I can do for now (

June 14, 2004, 11:57 AM
I think a 50-pound sack of landscaping pebbles would probably act like a shotgun, so that might not be bad for home defense. :)

Jay Kominek
June 14, 2004, 12:52 PM
The prosecutor refused to bring charges and stated that under the law porches were included under the "Make My Day" law.
Ok, the problem there is that it doesn't count as precedent, as I understand such things. No court had a chance to rule on it; the DA didn't even try.
But that might make the next DA hesitant to try prosecuting, too.

Roadkill Coyote
June 14, 2004, 03:54 PM
The case that dealt with porches in Colorado may be;

People v. Young, 825 P.2d 1004 (Colo. App. 1991).

June 14, 2004, 04:31 PM
IANAL, but as I recall, in Oklahoma the garage counts as long as attached. You have NO duty to retreat.

The car is considered an extension of the home for purposes of a search, as such, I believe it counts the same way with self defense.

June 14, 2004, 05:53 PM
True jkominek, but the reason the DA did not press was because the courts had previously ruled that porches were included in the law

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