Stand Your Ground Law – North Carolina

https://www.survivalsullivan.com/north-carolina-stand-your-ground-law/

North Carolina is a remarkably sane state when it comes to self-defense laws, and their stand-your-ground provision, though nominally written in a way more restrictive compared to other states, is in practice highly effective and a stalwart defense for armed citizens.

So long as a person is in any place they have a legal right to be, occupying a vehicle or occupying a residence, temporary or permanent, they have no duty to retreat or attempt any other defensive measure aside from lethal force when faced with a threat of death or great bodily injury.

flag of North Carolina

In the article below, we will give you an overview of what you need to know about North Carolina’s stand-your-ground laws and will also include the specific statutes containing the exact text of the law for you to review yourself.

What You Need to Know

  • North Carolina law presumes that a person occupying their home, place of business or vehicle has a fear of death or great bodily injury when an attacker attempts to illegally enter or illegally remove the occupant.
  • North Carolina justifies the use of deadly force whenever a person is in any place they have a lawful right to be in response to a threat of death or great bodily harm.
  • So long as the defender acts in accordance with the laws that codify the above, they are immune to criminal and civil liability.

General Provisions

In North Carolina, a citizen may use force in order to stop the use of unlawful force against themselves or a third-party.

The use of force must be proportional to the threat, meaning that lethal force cannot be used against a non-lethal threat, according to the reasonable person analysis.

However, lethal force may be used against any unlawful use of force that threatens the life of the defender or a third party, or threatens them with the risk of great bodily injury.

Additionally, the state of North Carolina presumes that a defender who’s occupying their home, place of business or vehicle has such a fear for their life, a reasonable one, in the case of any person attempting unlawful entry into the dwelling, business or vehicle or attempts to remove forcibly the occupant from said it dwelling, business or vehicle.

The law also spells out plainly that a defender who is in any place they have a legal, lawful right to be and determines that lethal force must be used to prevent a similarly lethal threat or threat of great bodily injury to themselves or someone else has no obligation to retreat or attempt any other countermeasure under the law before resorting to lethal force.

Restrictions

Lethal force may be employed with the presumption of the fear of death or great bodily injury on account of the defender with no obligation to retreat so long as they are in a place they have a legal right to be, but any other use of non-lethal defensive force might have additional stipulations for justification. Make sure you read the statutes below in their entirety.

Assessment

There is little to complain about when it comes to North Carolina’s self-defense and stand-your-ground laws.

So long as a person is occupying their home, place of business, vehicle or any other place they have a legal, lawful right to be there is no duty to retreat before employing lethal defensive force.

The state presumes in such circumstances that the defender acted with a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury so long as they are in a dwelling, their place of business or inside of vehicle when the attacker attempts to forcibly enter or remove them from the same.

Relevant North Carolina Use of Force Statutes

14-51.2. Home, workplace, and motor vehicle protection; presumption of fear of death or serious bodily harm.

(a) The following definitions apply in this section:

(1) Home. – A building or conveyance of any kind, to include its curtilage, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed as a temporary or permanent residence.

(2) Law enforcement officer. – Any person employed or appointed as a full-time, part-time, or auxiliary law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, post-release supervision officer, or parole officer.

(3) Motor vehicle. – As defined in G.S. 20-4.01(23).

(4) Workplace. – A building or conveyance of any kind, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, which is being used for commercial purposes.

(b) The lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to another if both of the following apply:

(1) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a home, motor vehicle, or workplace, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace.

(2) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

(c) The presumption set forth in subsection (b) of this section shall be rebuttable and does not apply in any of the following circumstances:

(1) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the home, motor vehicle, or workplace, such as an owner or lessee, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person.

(2) The person sought to be removed from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace is a child or grandchild or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the defensive force is used.

(3) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in, attempting to escape from, or using the home, motor vehicle, or workplace to further any criminal offense that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

(4) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who enters or attempts to enter a home, motor vehicle, or workplace in the lawful performance of his or her official duties, and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties.

(5) The person against whom the defensive force is used (i) has discontinued all efforts to unlawfully and forcefully enter the home, motor vehicle, or workplace and (ii) has exited the home, motor vehicle, or workplace.

(d) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

(e) A person who uses force as permitted by this section is justified in using such force and is immune from civil or criminal liability for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties.

(f) A lawful occupant within his or her home, motor vehicle, or workplace does not have a duty to retreat from an intruder in the circumstances described in this section.

(g) This section is not intended to repeal or limit any other defense that may exist under the common law.


14-51.3. Use of force in defense of person; relief from criminal or civil liability.

(a) A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if either of the following applies:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.

(2) Under the circumstances permitted pursuant to G.S. 14-51.2.

(b) A person who uses force as permitted by this section is justified in using such force and is immune from civil or criminal liability for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties.


14-51.4. Justification for defensive force not available.

The justification described in G.S. 14-51.2 and G.S. 14-51.3 is not available to a person who used defensive force and who:

(1) Was attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of a felony.

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself. However, the person who initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself will be justified in using defensive force if either of the following occur:

a. The force used by the person who was provoked is so serious that the person using defensive force reasonably believes that he or she was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, the person using defensive force had no reasonable means to retreat, and the use of force which is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to the person who was provoked was the only way to escape the danger.

b. The person who used defensive force withdraws, in good faith, from physical contact with the person who was provoked, and indicates clearly that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the person who was provoked continues or resumes the use of force.


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