Castle doctrine; self-defense and defense of others. (HB48)

Introduced By

Del. Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) with support from 14 copatrons, whose average partisan position is:

Those copatrons are Del. Dave Albo (R-Springfield), Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst), Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), Del. Anne Crockett-Stark (R-Wytheville), Del. Gordon Helsel (R-Poquoson), Del. Keith Hodges (R-Urbanna), Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge), Del. Jimmie Massie (R-Richmond), Del. Will Morefield (R-North Tazewell), Del. Rick Morris (R-Carrollton), Del. John O'Bannon (R-Richmond), Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding), Del. Tony Wilt (R-Harrisonburg), Sen. Chris Head (R-Roanoke)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Castle doctrine.  Encodes a version of the "castle doctrine," allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person who is lawfully in the dwelling, without civil liability. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


12/16/2011Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/12 12100520D
12/16/2011Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/13/2012Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
01/30/2012Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (6-Y 2-N)
02/03/2012Reported from Courts of Justice with amendments (12-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2012Read first time
02/08/2012Read second time
02/08/2012Committee amendments agreed to
02/08/2012Pending question ordered
02/08/2012Engrossed by House as amended HB48E
02/08/2012Printed as engrossed 12100520D-E
02/09/2012Pending question ordered
02/09/2012Read third time and passed House (70-Y 28-N)
02/09/2012VOTE: PASSAGE (70-Y 28-N) (see vote tally)
02/10/2012Constitutional reading dispensed
02/10/2012Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/15/2012Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (8-Y 7-N) (see vote tally)
02/15/2012Committee substitute printed 12105463D-S1
02/17/2012Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/20/2012Read third time
02/20/2012Reading of substitute waived
02/20/2012Committee substitute agreed to 12105463D-S1
02/20/2012Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute HB48S1
02/20/2012Passed Senate with substitute (24-Y 16-N) (see vote tally)
02/21/2012Placed on Calendar
02/22/2012Passed by for the day
02/23/2012Senate substitute rejected by House 12105463D-H1 (2-Y 97-N)
02/23/2012VOTE: REJECTED (2-Y 97-N) (see vote tally)
02/27/2012Senate insisted on substitute (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/27/2012Senate requested conference committee
02/28/2012House acceded to request
02/29/2012Conferees appointed by House
02/29/2012Delegates: Bell, Richard P., Habeeb, Johnson
02/29/2012Conferees appointed by Senate
02/29/2012Senators: Stuart, Stanley, Edwards
03/06/2012Passed by for the day
03/07/2012Motion to pass by Conference report indefinitely agreed to
03/07/2012Motion to recommit to committee agreed to
03/07/2012Recommitted to Courts of Justice
03/07/2012Pursuant to Senate Rule 20(g)
03/07/2012Continued to 2013 in Courts of Justice


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 3 clips in all, totaling 24 minutes.

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: SB64.


Charles writes:

Thanks for supporting this, Dickie. I was stunned to learn that Virginia doesn't already recognize some version of the Castle doctrine.

Stephen Cooper writes:

The definitely needs to pass. Self defense and defense of ones family and property are critical rights.

Colin writes:

This seems a bit broad. There are several clauses within the bill that give me pause. "including deadly physical force, against another person when the other person has unlawfully entered the dwelling" So what happens when someone's neighbor enters the house because they think something is wrong? There are plenty of accidental deaths due to firearms as is, we don't need to make it even easier.
[source] [/source]

And then there is this "having committed an overt act toward the occupant or another person in the dwelling, and the occupant reasonably believes he or another person in the dwelling is in imminent danger of bodily injury."

There is no definition for overt act. Believes is a very loose word that could be used in many circumstances. Frankly there is nothing concrete in this. Maybe it's because you can't define what life threatening is, but do you really trust the average citizen to be able to properly judge when they're in a life threatening situation?

Yes, there are a lot of frivolous law suits out there, but there really aren't that many that win. There's no reason to take away civil liability here, if they weren't in the wrong for shooting someone odds are they won't have to worry about a lawsuit. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but they are rare and usually don't hold any water in court. I'll be interested to see 10 years down the road if the number of accidental deaths has increased and if the number of legal intervention deaths has increased (as it should according to those in favor of this bill.)

S. P. Gauntt writes:

Define "overt act" as a refusal to leave when ordered to and/or when advised that "I'm armed and will shoot" or words to that effect.

Michael G-S writes:

Someone who defends his family from an intruder in his home shouldn't have to bear the financial and emotional costs of defending himself in court later. If an evildoer breaks into my home, he is taking his chances and gets what he deserves. Castle Doctrine is something Virginia should institute immediately as a protection to the law-adiding citizens of the Commonwealth. I respectfully ask the General Assembly to get this law on the books. Further, I am grateful to those senators and delegates who have worked hard to win this intelligent legislation the consideration it has long deserved.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Under this law, there would be nothing preventing somebody from luring a victim into their home, and then killing him, claiming it was a home invader. There is a huge, huge gray area between a bona fide home invasion and capital murder. This law would pretend that gray area does not exist. Which is why it did not pass the legislature. Killings should be investigated, and when sufficient cause exists to bring charges (under the discretion of the police, the commonwealth's attorney, and—as necessary—a grand jury), then charges should be brought. We have an entire legal system constructed to handle this problem already, and it's well covered.