The Castle Doctrine

Homeowners in Virginia will soon have further protections against being sued in the event they use deadly force during a home invasion. The expanded “Castle Doctrine” will now head to the House after overcoming its greatest hurdle in the State Senate by a comfortable margin.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Richard Stuart, admits this measure does not absolutely prevent a person who kills an intruder with a firearm or other deadly force from being sued, but it does deter most trial lawyers looking for a big payday.

“If this statute is codified and it’s very clearly a defense to that suit, there are very few lawyers who are going to take these cases on a contingent fee knowing they’re not going to get paid,” said Stuart.

But Senator Creigh Deeds argued that this is simply a jury instruction during a lawsuit, it aggregates current common law, and deceives homeowners into believing they cannot be sued should they use deadly force.

“He is leaving a world of discretion up to an individual court to decide what’s left, if anything, of the common law with respect to defense within curtilage and the common law with respect to self defense itself,” said Deeds.

Another bill related to the use of firearms streamlines the process to obtain concealed-carry permits by eliminating the need for fingerprinting.  The bill passed the Senate by a comfortable margin and without discussion.

–Tommie McNeil

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