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Mississippi Lawyer Blog

The Castle Doctrine in Mississippi: What it's For and Why it Helps

In 2016, Wayne Parish was accused for the shooting death of a teenager who was allegedly breaking into his car. Two years later, in January 2018, Hinds County District Attorney announced the murder case had been dropped and that they were no longer actively prosecuting. This case shone light on the Mississippi law that outlines the right civilians have to protect one's legally occupied place. 

Witness swearing on the bible telling the truth in the court room

What is the Castle Doctrine?

The Castle Doctrine was passed in Mississippi in 2006 and exists as an amendment to the country's justifiable homicide law, which varies from state to state.

In Mississippi, the law states that a person is allowed to use defensive force if another person has or is in the process of forcibly entering the former person's legally occupied property. This isn't restricted to just a dwelling. It can extend to a business, place of employment or even a vehicle. 

A portion of the law states that homicide is justifiable in certain circumstances:

  • Any degree of force, including deadly, is permitted as long as a person is attempting to defend their personal space and/or are facing potential imminent death or great bodily harm if they do not do so.
  • Civilians are able to use lethal force, whether by hand or weapon, to defend against a person trying to perform a felony attack on them, such as murder, assault or rape, or to protect someone else. 

With the Wayne Parish case, surveillance cameras had captured footage of the teenager, Charles McDonald, being shot. He had been trying to break into Parish's car when Parish, who was armed, came out to confront him. A struggle had ensued over the weapon and it went off, killing McDonald. Authorities recently confirmed that the charges against Parish had been dropped because McDonald had been attempting to break into the former's vehicle - which is covered by the Castle Doctrine. 

The Castle Doctrine is based on Old English common law which states that a person is free to defend their homes and property without having to face legal consequences.

It is similar to stand-your-ground laws, which permits those to meet force with force if they feel a reasonable threat of death or bodily harm when on public land. The main difference between the two laws are the lands they cover - Stand Your Ground covers public spaces while the Castle Doctrine covers personal property. 

Since the law has been passed, it was reported that there had been an overall 5% reduction in crime in Mississippi. However, one important note is that convicted felons cannot legally possess a firearm so the Castle Doctrine does not reinstate a felon's right to own a gun. As a result, convicted felons who use firearms in an attempt to protect their property will still face prosecution. 

Discuss Any Castle Law Queries with an Expert Today

If you have any queries or concerns about the Castle Doctrine, it's always a good idea to speak to a legal expert. At Coxwell & Associates, our team of attorneys are experienced in handling a range of cases, from high profile criminal defense to civil lawsuits and personal injury. We offer compassionate and aggressive representation to clients throughout Mississippi. Contact us today at 1-601-948-16001-877-231-1600 or click on the button below.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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