Does Illinois Recognize the Castle Doctrine?

A St. Louis, Missouri couple is facing charges after waving their guns at protesters outside of their homes. The couple claims that protesters broke down the gate leading into their home and were gathered outside of their front door. The incident has been an incredibly popular media story, with many people pointing out that they had every right to protect their home, and that a mob does not have the right to charge someone’s personal property. The couple is facing serious criminal charges for the incident, but the Missouri Attorney General has said that he has entered the case and is seeking a dismissal of the charges under the castle doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine Gives Us a Right to Defend Our Own Property

The castle doctrine is a historic legal doctrine that allows a person to use force in self-defense to protect his or her home. Illinois recognizes the castle doctrine with some caveats. There is no castle doctrine in Illinois’ statutory law, but there are multiple statutes that together form a modified castle doctrine. In the wake of recent civil unrest, many Illinois homeowners are wondering what they can legally do to protect themselves and their homes.

Defense of a Person

A person can use force to defend him or herself or another person under Illinois law, but only “when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.” 720 ILCS 5/7-1(a). The use of deadly force is only justified to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

In other words, if you use force to protect yourself, you will need to show that someone else was going to use unlawful force against you and that the threat was imminent. For example, if someone threatened you an hour ago, but then walked away, you cannot use force against that person. You can only use force against threats that are happening to you right now.

Defense of Your Home

In Illinois, you can use force against another person when you reasonably believe that using force is necessary to prevent or stop someone’s unlawful entry into your dwelling. A dwelling is defined as a home in which you sleep at night. If you use deadly force to defend your dwelling, you will need to prove one of the following:

A person or people entered your home in a violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner, and you reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent violence or an assault to someone in your dwelling, or
You believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent a felony in the dwelling

Illinois statutory law allows you to use deadly force to protect your home in very narrow and serious circumstances. Rioters breaking through your gate and into your front yard would likely not justify using force as Illinois does not condone the use of deadly force to protect property.

Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

As riots continue throughout our cities, homeowners are more concerned than ever about protecting their families and homes. If you are facing criminal charges for protecting your home or your loved ones, we can help. Contact the Schaumburg criminal defense lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation.

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