Castle doctrine; self-defense and defense of others. (SB64)

Introduced By

Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Moneta) with support from co-patrons Del. Tom Garrett (R-Louisa), and Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania)


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 »


01/30/2012: Merged into SB4


01/05/2012Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/12 12100719D
01/05/2012Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/25/2012Incorporated by Courts of Justice (SB4-Stuart) (15-Y 0-N)
01/30/2012Incorporated by Courts of Justice (SB4-Stuart) (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: HB48.


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.