Home self-defense in Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - On Sunday night, police say a man was shot after entering another person's home in Sturgis.


A shooting like that brings up questions of just what rights and responsibilities a homeowner has in that type of situation.

The Castle Doctrine states that your home is your castle and you have the right to defend it. Stand Your Ground laws in South Dakota say a person can use force or violence against someone else, if there is a reasonable belief of danger.

Timothy Rensch is a defense attorney in Rapid City.

"You can use the right of self-defense and you can use force or violence upon someone who's trespassing," said Rensch. "But really, the demarcation line is what is called deadly force. And deadly force is if you're going to kill somebody. And the law in South Dakota, and many other states, is justifiable homicide, meaning that there has to be a reasonable basis for it."

Some of the mitigating factors in justifiable use of force are how the person enters, their demeanor, the speed at which everything happens, and even the mental state of the intruder. Rensch said, "you know it when you see it."

"Now, you're only allowed to use the force that's reasonable under the law," said Rensch. "And that's where things can get a little tricky because people can have a different view of what is reasonable. However, if someone is in your home, they appear to be dangerous to you, they appear to be bent on hurting someone in the house, burglarizing the house, or things like that, you have the right to use deadly force in that circumstance."

According to Rensch, South Dakota has a long, strong, home self-defense, so long as there is reason to believe that someone is in danger, there's no requirement to retreat. Rensch also said that homeowners are typically favored in these sorts of cases.