Self Defense Laws in North Carolina: A Resource for Residents

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?”


There is an old saying that goes, “A person’s home is their castle.” This phrase is used to explain the deeply intrinsic motivation we have to protect our property and its inhabitants. When intruders try to invade our space and threaten us with personal injury or worse, we are sometimes forced to respond to the threat. However, what does the law in North Carolina say about our choice of defense?


forced-entry-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Criminal-defense-lawyer-300x225North Carolina law, like many other states, has enacted statutes and resolutions that clearly define the boundaries upon which property owners can protect themselves with the use of force. Known commonly as “stand your ground” laws, each state takes a somewhat different approach to defining what property owners can and cannot do when faced with an intruder.


Although consulting with a trusted criminal defense attorney in your area is always the preferred course of action in self defense cases, there is certainly some general information that North Carolina residents should know regardless of the specifics of their case. The following is a broad overview regarding self defense laws in North Carolina, it is recommended to consult with an experienced attorney to address your specific questions and concerns.


Understanding the Castle Doctrine


North Carolina falls into the majority of states that employ what is known as the Castle Doctrine.  This form of stand-your-ground laws is different from the traditional conceptualization in that the law in North Carolina is more restrictive regarding when a person can defend themselves by using force.


As your criminal defense attorney may explain, the Castle Doctrine is based on the notion that your home is like your castle, and you have a right to defend your property from intruders.  In North Carolina, the Castle Doctrine extends to not only a resident’s home, but to their vehicles and workplace as well.


Justifying the Use of Force


In court, your criminal defense attorney will work to show that your use of force was justified.  According to North Carolina Law, you can use a reasonable amount of force when you believe it is needed to protect yourself and/or someone else from an attacker who is using illegal force.


If you reasonably believe that deadly force is needed to prevent imminent death or severe personal injury to yourself or someone else, North Carolina law allows you to use deadly force as long as you have a lawful right to be on the property.


Exceptions to the Castle Doctrine


In North Carolina, you may be exempt from civil or criminal liability unless the force you used was against a law enforcement officer who was legally conducting their official duties. In addition, you are not exempt if the officer identifies themselves or you had prior knowledge relating to the possible presence of an officer on your property.


The Benefit of Professional Counsel


A home invasion can be a devastatingly traumatic event. While victims may want to pursue legal action against the offenders, the amount of work and legal know-how needed to win a case can seem insurmountable. For this reason, residents in Charlotte and North Carolina often turn to the services of Arnold & Smith, PLLC to help navigate their defense. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to get experienced insight on your terms. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.





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