The New Law of Self Defense?

[Editor’s note: John is the author of The Law of Self-Defense in North Carolina, an in-depth analysis of North Carolina’s approach to the use of defensive force. It’s available for purchase here.]

North Carolina law recognizes various circumstances in which a person may lawfully use force against the threat of harm. Through decades of decisions, the North Carolina appellate courts have recognized the right to defend oneself, other people, and one’s home and property, among other interests, and have developed rules on when those rights apply and amount to a defense to criminal charges. New G.S. 14-51.2, 14-51.3, and 14-51.4 address several of the circumstances in which a person may use defensive force. The statutes restate the law in some respects and broaden it in others. The courts will have to examine their procedures closely to give effect to the new statutory language. The new statutes are part of S.L. 2011-268 (H 650), which applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011. (That legislation also revised several other statutes to expand the right to own, possess, and carry a gun, which Jeff discussed in a previous post.)

For example, the new defensive-force statutes recognize the right to use deadly force against a forcible, unlawful intrusion into a motor vehicle. The courts therefore will need to develop new jury instructions to reflect this right. If faced with such a threat, a person often would have the right to use deadly force under existing doctrines as well—namely, the right to defend oneself and any other vehicle occupants and to prevent the commission of a dangerous felony. A person would have the right to raise these defenses and have the jury instructed on them, in addition to the new defense of motor vehicle, in light of the general principle that a person may rely on multiple defenses that arise from the evidence and on the statement in new G.S. 14-51.2(g) that the statute “is not intended to repeal or limit any other defense that may exist under the common law.”

To take another example, the courts will have to incorporate into their procedures the new statutory presumption of lawfulness, applicable to the use of deadly force against a forcible intrusion into a home, motor vehicle, or workplace. The law has allowed a person to use deadly force against such intrusions, but the courts will have to consider the new presumption in evaluating whether the State has offered sufficient evidence to withstand a motion to dismiss by the defendant and, in cases that go to the jury, will have to give appropriate instructions explaining the presumption. The following summary highlights the key provisions of the new statutes; it does not attempt to address all of the issues the courts will need to consider.

New G.S. 14-51.2 modifies defense of habitation, called defense of home in the statute; explicitly recognizes a comparable defense for the workplace; and adopts a new defense involving motor vehicles. All involve defending against forcible intrusions into those areas under the circumstances described in the statute. Most important, the statute creates a presumption of lawfulness in the sense that if a lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle, or workplace uses deadly force against an intruder and meets the other conditions in the statute, the occupant is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself, herself, or another. The statute states that the new presumption is rebuttable and does not apply in five detailed instances, as when “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.” The act repeals G.S. 14-51.1, which modified the common law version of defense of home to allow deadly force to terminate as well as prevent entry by an intruder. Repealed G.S. 14-51.1 also stated that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder into the home. New G.S. 14-51.2 restates these principles for defense of home, motor vehicle, and workplace cases.

New G.S. 14-51.3 addresses the right to use deadly and nondeadly force to defend oneself and others. The statute appears to track the courts’ approach to these rights in most respects, but it may introduce new principles or at least clarify existing ones. For example, the statute states that a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself, herself, or others. The statute does not limit this principle to cases involving a home, motor vehicle, or workplace. Under current law, a person has no duty to retreat in comparable circumstances (that is, when a person is faced with a felonious assault), but the statute’s express statement of the principle may require the court to instruct the jury about it in all cases.

New G.S. 14-51.4 describes the circumstances in which a person is not entitled to rely on the defenses in new G.S. 14-51.2 and G.S. 14-51.3—for example, when a person is the aggressor by initially provoking the use of force against himself or herself. Again, these circumstances are similar in many respects to those recognized under current law, but differences exist, requiring close comparison of the statute to existing doctrines.

Over the next few weeks I will be working on a longer bulletin about the implications of the new statutes for defensive force cases. If you have any thoughts about the changes, please let me know.

98 comments on “The New Law of Self Defense?

  1. If I read the new 14-51.3 correctly, it looks like North Carolina now has what Florida affectionately calls the, “Stand your Ground,” rule.

    • I’m not sure of the rule in Florida, but for various reasons many states, including North Carolina, have not required a person to retreat when faced with a threat of harm. The person may not use more force than reasonably necessary (for example, deadly force when faced with a simple assault), but the person may meet “force with force” and “exchange blow for blow” in the words of our cases. I believe that has been the law in North Carolina (inside and outside of the home), but the new statute makes the law much clearer and may require the courts to instruct the jury explicitly on the right not to retreat.

      • YES!! Stand ground. We are Tar Heels for a reason. I live on the east coast in a trailer like most of us do. I also have a pistol, like most of us do. It takes little to no force for a man to kick open my door. I’m going to defend myself…Thinking I’m gonna have to shot this guy in the knee or something. And prey .22 bullet did just enough damaged to let me run out the other way. “Life in prison? For defending myself? Go on and kill me.” The break-ins here are happening more often, and to close to home for comfort. I feel like I can take a deep breath.. For the first time, I feel like the law is on our side.

        • Do not shoot in knee they will sue you they will lose but your out Lawyer and court fees

          • Incorrect. Please review the North Carolina General Statutes that pertain to the use of force in self-defense.

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

        • Never ever shoot to maim an intruder. They have intruded into your home, they pay the price. 2 in the chest, 1 in the head. Practice, practice , practice.
          Get the conceal carry university course. Great info.

      • The new 14-51.3 seems to allow someone facing a simple assault to use force capable of causing great bodily harm but not with force causing death.

        Isn’t this plain reading consistent with the sentiment that went into the law – letting folks defend themselves with more impunity?

        • I’d like to clarify my comment:

          Under 14-51.3 the only condition on the non-aggressor’s use of force to repel any force, such as threatened fist fight, is that he may not use deadly force. So in that case, the non-aggressor is free to use force causing great bodily injury.

          The non-aggressor is no longer limited in his self defense to meting out blow for blow, or just enough to repel the attack. If you are attacked with someone swinging his fists you are now allowed to knock them out with a club, causing whatever collateral injuries they may suffer to teeth, eyes, bones, as long as the injuries caused to the attacker are non-life threatening.

          • I do not believe that’s correct. First, the law defines deadly force as force likely to cause death or great bodily harm, not just force likely to cause death. The statute permits a person to use force likely to cause death or great bodily injury only if he or she “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” (14-51.3(a)(1)) or the circumstances of 14-51.2 on defense of home, workplace, or vehicle apply. In other words, a person may not use force likely to cause death or great bodily injury against any amount of force; the person must reasonably believe he or she is facing death or great bodily injury.

            Second, the statute permits a person to use less than deadly force “when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend . . . against the other’s imminent use of force.” 14-51.3(a). In other words, even when a person is using force that is not likely to cause death or great bodily injury–that is, when a person is using non-deadly force–the person may only use such force as is reasonably necessary to defend against the threat. The person may not continue to inflict injuries when not reasonably necessary in defense of self or others.

        • I have a question if someone is in your home (I live in NC) and they start to get out of hand with their mouth and they push you and you try to get them to leave and you fight and hit them with a walking stick just to remove them bc they won’t leave and all the while they are doing this in front of a 7 year old child is that wrong to use that kind of force to remove someone that is out of hand?

          • I did it tonight and got arrested and didn’t even put my hands on them in my own home. Newton NC

      • So if your a woman alone with your children and a man breaks into your home, or picks the lock, and comes in (etc.) I have to just let him RAPE ME or KIDNAP MY KIDS and/or MOLEST MY KIDS???, because I have “no proof” that he will not kill me or my kids after the crime???? So I cannot shoot an intruder out of fear that I will be raped and or my children kidnapped and/or molested? I think they did not take into consideration the full extent of what bodily harm is… RAPE and/or MOLESTATION should be considered as bad as life threatening and frankly, I believe I should be allowed if I possess a gun or other means (a candlestick) to use deadly force to prevent my rape or kidnapping of my children or molestation!!! I know that as a woman who is alone many times w/ her children due to her spouses employment taking him out of the country for long periods of time that if I see a man in my house that “I did not invite in” that I will automatically fear the worse and that they are here to rape me, kidnap or molest my children… or kill us… who enters a home knowing there are occupants inside if not to kill or seriously harm them physically and/or mentally??? The answer is simple… nobody in their right mind would enter into a home without intent to do serious harm to the people inhabiting the home! This does not even take into the fact that I had neck surgery leaving my neck vulnerable to being broken easily, so any kind of blow to my head could result in braking my neck… so, I have to wait and see how hard they hit me to determine how much force I can use against them??? SERIOUSLY??? The criminal is protected??? But what about me and my children???

        • In NC if someone breaks into your home, you have the right to shoot and kill the intruder, If you or your children are in danger of being raped or hurt and you fear for your life, you can defend yourself with deadly force, Remember, In a case where someone breaks into your home, the only story the law needs to hear is yours, he can’t lie if he is dead

    • I was told recently i cannot use knives or any weapon to practice martial arts (or combatant self defense) in my yard because i live with my grandparents who say it is psychologically inferior or anterior to upright actions or thoughts. My neighbors complained and ive even been threatened with imprisonment or mental and psychiatric confinement and treatment if i do not cease or purchase a gym membership where i can perform such acts. The reason is that i am too “scary” . I do not own a fire arm personally and i think its unnecessary to except as a tool or educational device unless ultimately necessary and i think its excess baggage personally unless you can open carry constantly. I know by law i can do what i have done. I know its legal to practice sword fighting. Knife throwing amonst other things. The excuse is an escalation from a city-wide ban on the use of air pistols and ball bearing guns or race projectiles. There is no law prohibiting yoga, tai chi, or karate from being performed even in parks. I think its intentional citizens banning everything because municipal opportunity fails to be as good as private business or makes less money. Thats my final word on the issue. I will ask at city hall for a permit or license and check but i have been “win-talked” to that its not possible and that they are going to ban martial arts in the USA eventually and make all those from schools into slaves like butlers and volunteers if they do not have jobs already. Im disabled so i know im safe for the future where i will be seen as either a tyrant by defacto designation, a prisoner, or some other type enslavement. Its very ugly to be denied the rights to freedom because others save thier freedoms for the last minute of life savoring and relishing them before they die.

      • This might fall under “Armed to the Terror” common law.

      • You should seek help ; ) For one you live with your grandparents.. it’s there house and yard, not yours and if they wish for you to not practice with knives or weapons at there place of residence then that is there right. you are wrong!

    • Does this law apply to felons???

    • I stood my ground I had a rough start to adult hood and became a felon at a early age .I got my self together in my early 30 s and due to my record a good job was out of the option, so I started my own small bussines and it became very secusseful. but i kept getting broke into over 8 times and i made police repports everytime and did everything i was suposed to but it got me no where and the robberies continued to happen,even got robbed twice at gun point. So one of my employess got a pistol to keep at the shop and i was there one night and several men tried to jump me and rob me and i shoot some warning shots to keep them back scienc it took the police 30 min to get there everytime and i even callked the law afterwards and they took me to jail for fire arm by felon and im looking at mulitiple years in prision, if theres anyone who can helpor give advice i would appericate it

      • THAT SUCKS! What was the outcome?

  2. Florida’s law is here. It was quite controversial when it was enacted in 2005; the Brady Bunch campaign started passing out fliers at airports warning new visitors to not get into arguments with, “local people,” since they could now get shot. It looks like SL 2011-268 tracks Florida closely now, except Florida allows deadly force to prevent a “forcible” felony, as opposed to our, “serious bodily harm,” requirement for the same force.

    How have our courts interpreted, “serious bodily harm,” in the context of self defense? A simple fist fight probably does not justify deadly force, but how about when the victim starts getting teeth knocked out or bones broken? Or, how about when the victim is armed, and a struggle ensues. The threat of great bodily harm is present because the aggressor could get the weapon and then use it against the victim. Would that justify a preemptive use of force by the victim against the aggressor? How about pointing the firearm and threatening its use?

    Those situations are why most all concealed carry instructors teach their students that the first thing they do in any situation is to avoid that situation in the first place.

    • I’ll remember your advice next time I visit Florida. As for the the meaning of “serious bodily harm,” that’s a new term in self-defense law. The courts have required a reasonable fear of “great bodily harm” as a condition of using deadly defensive force but have not defined the term. Cf. State v. Ramseur, 338 N.C. 502, 507 (1994) (stating that for the serious injury element of an assault offense “injury must be serious but it must fall short of causing death” and that “further definition seems neither wise nor desirable”). In using the term “serious bodily harm,” the General Assembly may have been thinking about the term “serious bodily injury,” which has crept into our law through offenses such as assault inflicting serious bodily injury. The statutory definition of that term (see 14-32.4(a)) may be an apt proxy for serious bodily harm or great bodily harm. So, would the potential injury from ordinary fisticuffs constitute serious or great bodily harm and justify deadly force in response? Without more, probably not. On the other hand, being beaten to a pulp (or reasonably fearing such a beating) probably would be enough.

    • Mr. Rubin: I think that “Prosecutor’s” disrespectful reference to the Brady Campaign is inappropriate and unacceptable. Are you condoning it? Rich McMahon.

      • In regards to Richard’s thinking that reference to the Brady campaign was inappropiate, well see if this makes it more clear. The whole BRADY BUNCH are nothing more than liberal communist and are a major part of the problem with this country now. Anyone that is aginst gun rights needs to go live in another country. And as far as banning firearms, you think the criminals are going to just hand over theirs? I think not. The Brady Bill just caused more problems for the law abiding gun owner. I don’t care who finds this disrespectful, inappropiate or unacceptable. Anyone that is against the 2nd admenment is a threat and enemy of this country.

        • While this comment is 2.5 years old it needs to be addressed.

          James Brady’s opposition to handgun violence was not directed at those who would lawfully carry, but instead those with mental deficiencies who wrongfully dehumanize their enemies with slurs both racial and political out of mental imbalance.

          James Brady was Reagan’s White house press secretary before and after being shot by a cheaply made 22 pistol bought from a pawn shop. Thanks to the Brady bill that gun and many others like it “tend” to be purchased from gun stores.

          I am not an enemy to the 2nd amendment, but I do believe in gun control, whether it be the control and respect needed in the field, firing range or in proper storage and security, or in the sale, purchase, licensing and disclosure of these activities to the proper authorities. My belief in these simple acts of gun control do not make me a communist, nor did they make the late, great James Brady a traitor or communist.

          I am an advocate for simplified gun control.
          1. Frequent tests for license and mental health on the order of every 5 years. Fitness to serve has been part of American law since Washington called up the militias for the Whiskey Rebellion.
          2. Bans of up to 10 years for felonies, but some sort of restoration path for those who make honest amends(there are people who deserve the right to bear arms again. We let some of them vote, the right to bear arms is actually a lesser right than that)
          3. A simple database of license and record of every gun sale. Preventing a computer database of all firearms fails to understand the nature of a database in the first place.
          4. A clear path to the ownership of any firearm, for the manufacture of firearms, and a clear chain of liability to the people who would commit crimes, straw purchase guns, or are mentally deficient as the majority of gun criminals are today.

          There is a common enemy to both the gun owner and the citizen simply bothered by gun violence, and it is the overreaction and claim that those who seek to limit gun violence are in some way less American than those who seek to protect the right to bear arms. Likewise those who would call a man or woman who chooses to own a gun a gun nut, when there are people who better fit the description around, muddy the waters too much to see anything clearly.

          • The right to keep and bear arms is in fact the greatest right that we posses not just as Americans but as human beings. Think of it this way good sir, without the right to bear arms how would we have the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right to travel unmolested. In fact good sir if we did not obtain / maintain the right to bear arms what would stop this great nation from turning into the dictatorships this great nation has always stood toe to toe with? My final case in point a quote by a Japanese Admiral after attacking pearl harbor ” It is not the U.S. military that I fear, but a full invasion of the United States would be the single worst decision we could ever make. There would be a rifle waiting behind every blade of grass!”

          • What other rights do you think the government should require training and licensing before “allowing” you to use? What kind of stupid is it when you think criminals will obey laws? Why should law abiding Americans have to register their firearms when criminals don’t? The supreme court has ruled that “all” citizens have the right to bear arms, not just militias. Where is the call for “simple or common sense” laws forbidding any of our other rights? You really need to read history and see how many people have been killed by their own government after taking their gun rights away. Look closely and you will find that more have died at the hands of their own government than all wars combined !!!!!

        • hear, hear

    • if you were in a nite club and someone was a threat to you and later pull a gun out and threating to shoot you,do you have the right to defen yourself with deadly force,or get kill by that person with the gun that threat to kill you?Is that self defense?

  3. I agree with your assessment. It just makes sense that the courts would ultimately wind up borrowing from the assault jurisprudence. I interpret the new statute as something more than just a fist fight where the shooter is at lest evenly matched in size, skill, and opportunity with the aggressor; or if there are multiple bad guys involved (Bernie Goetz would be safe in my book).

    I ultimately do like Florida’s wording a whole lot better than North Carolina’s. It is much more succinct, elegant, and includes a requirement that the shooter not be engaged in an unlawful activity (that rule automatically eliminates any convicted felon since they cannot lawfully possess a firearm). A lot of the criticism of Florida’s law is based on a few cases where one thug shoots another thug, and the law supposedly plays a role in not seeking charges. (It does, however, wind up with one less thug in the world.)

    Ultimately, though, I highly doubt we will get any real case law on this point, since 99% of the cases involving the new law will involve either a law abiding citizen shooting a thug (easy call to decline prosecution and thank the citizen for chlorinating the gene pool), or one thug shooting another thug over a drug deal gone wrong (he’ll plead guilty to Discharging a Weapon into Occupied Clothing and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, so no appeal). Seeing as how the General Assembly has been consistently making it harder to lock the thugs up, I am certainly open to any “extra-judicial” methods of keeping scumbags in check.

    • Prosecutor…. my, my, my. I really hope your not really practicing law. You’ve just agreed to my statement. “Law is not on our side.”
      Your view is all wrong. You think NC just made it an even fight?? I’m 5’2, 125lb never been in a fight in my life. Someone having to defend there life against an aggressor. There the “aggressor” for a reason. They are bad people with bad intentions. The law didn’t make me bigger, stronger, faster, or viloint. The law gave me the right to shoot you before you get to me. All it takes is one good hit to the head by a grown man and I’m out. Also the aggressors energy is sky high, he just broke into my house. Which that just makes him faster, stronger.
      Of course you like Floridas law. It’s a play on words. Elegant?? No, that just means jerks like you use elegant words to tip the law into what you think is fair and right. Which a racics, swamp rat like yourself does NOT know whats right and fair. Gang hoodlums are spreading like a plauge. NC Law “CLEARLY” not “ELEGANTLY” States in plain English. I have the right to defend myself, my home, and my car. Meaning I don’t have to run away and give up my car when a knife is pulled on me. My car is my well being, I have to be able to get to work. And if my car is stolen and found. I then have to wait to get it out of police impound. I don’t think crimanls should have that kind of control over anyone. Control comes with fear. I shouldn’t have to fear getting gas at night. I also don’t think something so serious, as a deffense law should have that many holes in it either. FL law is so confussing it gives Asshole procucours the control to twist trils, and blow our civil right to a FAIR trial right out the window. It’s makes me sad for you, how you can talk about men loosen their lives with no compassion. It sounded like you were bored typing that. It sounds like your doing a great job “keeping the scumbags in check.” Maybe you should try working on the one in the mirror?

      • Ugh. Can’t read this even if I wanted to. Learn English before you dole advice.

        • I like what GO.UNC is saying. His grammar is all fucked up but he makes perfect sense. I don’t give a shit what the law states, Im going to defend myself and my family. Its my human nature and my duty as a father and husband to get back home every night safe because my family expects me to. I will gladly do time for my family. My instructor demonstrated that it only takes mere seconds for another person to catch you off guard and anything can be used against you as a weapon. Im a small dude and I grew up in the city and can probably fend-off most attacks but Im still limited and short and theres a lot of big ass dudes out to do harm. The key is to NOT be the aggressor and to make sure HE is not running away from you before you decide to use deadly force. Close hand-2-hand combat scenarios are real and will alter your perception and train of thought. We’re by instinct going to try to survive… Remain alert, peace.

          • Please do not get caught in the “he’s a big dude, I’m a small dude” none sense. I am a 6 ft. 200 lb r and because of my years of extensive mixed martial arts,( really meaning have a good stand up close and fast hard hits to vital area, then if need be, throw the big dude off balance and hit quickly stomp his face so that his back head hits the hard ground, knocking him out, then flee or call police. Know practice grading your chin, hands up with balled fists, move a little, never swing wide to punch, jab with leading hand followed by 2 big knockouts to the chin. He will go down. I did it like that 100s of times. Faintx2 strike, fentex1 strike, also have strong grappling skills. Been in the UFC thing years before anyone new what UFC was. Listen to me.your size with skills can heavily damage much bigger/ stronger opponent. Learn both stand up and ground game and don’t be afraid to take a punch, they’re all not bad as it looks.oh and use tricks, always trick your opponent, talk nonsense or ask a question right before you strike, it blows their minds. I know! QIX 34-11 woodbridge,NJ GO JUDOKAI Sensei Garbarek, love you guys!

        • I’ve had enough of politically correct. I was brought up to be respectful to others and know write from wrong. I am no angel but I will protect my family, neighbors and property at all costs and let God sort them out. When you’re defending all of the above your not thinking about being wrong, your thinking about being killed! I’m wondering if these liberals would be thinking the same way if one of their family was killed and they couldn’t do anything about it but watch and get the shit kicked out of them.

      • I am of the opinion that deadly force in relation to a car only applies when you are an occupant. You cannot use deadly force on someone stealing your car unless you are in it. Makes sense. Stealing a car in a parking lot. With no threat to yourself does not warrant a death sentence.

      • NC has a specific law that states: Deadly force cannot be used to repel a simple assault…. which means just because you are afraid of the big bad wolf, that does not mean you can shoot it. Also defined by NC is this: you can not use deadly force if a person is using threatening or violent language… I know these things because that is what the NC DOJ taught me.

    • A convicted felon can not legally own a firearm, you’re quite right about that but don’t get it twisted I don’t lose my right to defend my home and my daughter who lives with me. It may not be a gun but if any S.O.B. Seek entry into my house it’s lights out. I hate the way the law hold it against a person for life for mistakes committed years on years ago.

      • I feel your point of view. Just Imagine there are so many people that have felonies that dont even consist of violence or let alone have anything to do with a gun. There are even people who took a plea and/or were wrongfully convicted and now they are unable to legally possess or be around a firearm, but when it comes to family then there is no law to abide by at all. Its GOD, then family comes next. Keeping your faith is important.

  4. In the state of North Carolina does a person has the right to use deadly force if an intruder breaks into your home to do bodily harm?

    • Yes.

      • If I shoot someone breaking into my home, do I have the burned of proving this person intended to do bodily harm?

  5. What does the new law say about opening a persons screen or storm door? If they are inside and don’t know who’s outside opening said door can they shoot through the closed solid door injuring or even killing the person on the outside.

    • Are you serious???? NO!

      • What the hell!!! I’d hate to be the UPS guy coming to your house

  6. What if someone enters the home only to retreat to the home owners property upon seeing a armed and angry homeowner can deadly force still be taking due to the fact the burglar was in the home moments earlier and may still be a threat to the safety of those inside?

    • No. Use of deadly force cannot be used if the aggressor is in the act of leaving.

  7. NO – If they have retreated, they are no longer an imminent threat to your life or property unless they have a weapon of their own and are pointing it at you or someone else.

  8. Amen to that, Look at what happen to Britan; they took all leagle firearms away from law abiding citizens and the street cops now the criminals are the majority that are armed. So it accomplished nothing striping the regular citizen of his weapon, and the right for that law abideing citizen to protect himself or herself and his or her family.


    • Well you can’t have a concealed weapon without a permit. So you ould have to get in you car, But they run off when you pull it out.

      • That sucks we can’t carry in our purse.. It’s hard to walk around with it on your hip.

  10. Shot in the back? illegal right?

  11. When carrying… Is it better to put the gun on the dash or in the seat?

    • When being pulled over? “”

    • If you have conceal carry, you don’t have to leave it in plain sight. If you open carry, It doesn’t matter as long as it is in plain sight. Mine is always on the seat. If you get pulled over, it is your responsibility to notify the cop that you have a weapon with you.

      • plain sight You better read the gun laws or speak with a attorney. Plain sight is defined by law enforcement as visible upon approach. I have seen many people charged with carrying a concealed weapon even when it is on the dash, seat, glove compartment or console. Without a concealed carry permit the weapon has to be in a area (trunk) that can not be readily accessed by anyone in the car.

  12. What if the person is armed, communicating threats & attempting to kick the door in? Can you shoot him before he enters?

  13. If you are “in fear for your life” you have a right to shoot, depending on the state you are in (NY and Cal. gun laws are very strict), especially if the intruder is armed.

    • Wrong! What then constitutes”fear for your life”? That is an opinion, you must go on facts in order to use deadly force. If I happen to look at you and make an angry face at you and you suddenly fear for your life, you think you have the right to shoot me? Wrong! Emotions do not allow for someone to use deadly force, remember that, or else you will have plenty of time to remember it sitting in prison because you think you can shoot someone because you were scared! When faced with a situation, use this rule of thumb. You will know if you need to use deadly force if you know that if you do not, you will with out a doubt get killed or get great bodily injury, or get raped, or you are stopping that to a third person, saving someone else. Also remember to STOP when the attack has stopped, do not keep using whatever means of defense it is be it fists, sticks, or a pistol. If you go to court, you say “I stopped, when the attacker stopped”. Think about the rule of imminent death, rape, or great bodily injury!and never, ever, ever use defense stating that you did so because of some emotion, leave the “fear for your life ” thing out of it. If anything, you want to say that at the time, you were clear thinking, not mad, not angry, no emotions, it is understandable to be scared for your life, but do not say that is why you used force. You say you used force to stop the attack, because it was imminent,meaning that there was hardly no time whatsoever for you to be able to flee or make any other motion other than to defend yourself or that of a third person in order to survive and prevent imminent death, great bodily injury, or rape! Very important to start thinking in those terms. LEAVE THE EMOTIONS OUT OF IT!!!

      • you are wrong about the fearing for your life. you can use that you feared for your life but it has to be reasonable. like someone threatened to kill or hurt you, then started to walk towards you with a bat or some other weapon. you reasonably feared for your life and shot them before they had a chance to attack you is self defense. so emotions do and will always play a role in self defense, just has to be reasonable

        • WRONG AGAIN! Leave emotions out of it. You need to go on fact. When they cross examine you in court they want to see if you shot the person because you were scarred and did not need to shoot. Use the facts, 1 he threatened me,2 he started to approach,3 I warned him to stop and he did not, 4 I drew and fired my weapon to stop his attack as long as he was close Enough within 21 feet. That is the nc law and you will find out the hard way when you start talkin about how scarred you were. You don’t even need to be scarred to use deadly force. You can have a plain look on your face or even laugh, fact is, he’s coming at you to do imminent threat. They ask you your feelings to try and submarine your story, prosecutor will try to get you that way,or defense. Stay strong and use no emotion when you fired at the assailant. Do your CREDIBLE research. And don’t ask young rookies nor old fart cops, correspond with criminal lawyers or someone credible.

          • NC law does clearly state if you “FEAR” for your or someone else life you are allowed to use deadly force. I keep a copy of the laws in my home and auto at all times.

  14. Have a friend who’s a single mom, 2 kids at home thats having a problem with a ‘prowler’ a couple times a week for a month now. He comes thru the woods on foot, beats on her doors and windows, shines a flashlight thru her windows. Rifles thru a storage cabinet on her porch, etc. Every time it happens, she calls the cops and they come when they get around to it. Finally after 5 times in two weeks of being called they told her last night to relax and calm down that it was just a prowler and obviously didn’t intend to harm her. Does she have ANY recourse at all? The cops told her she can’t do a single thing even if they take everything she has outside and steal her car.

  15. my brothers baby mother invited me into her home on christmas to discuss a issuse about the kids she then assaulted me and her friend helped her, she had me in a choke hold and the only way that i could release myself was to bite her arm none the less i had to go to the er for a concussion. my problem is why was i charged with trespassing and simple assualt but her friend and her wasnt charged with anything. this happened in the state of north carolina. please help i need advice on what to do.

    • Sylvia
      That is a very similiar situation somewhat to what iam going thru I have a warrant for my arrest for a simple assault for getting in the middle of a fight and puting the girl in a choke hold to get her off my friend this happened on my property and the girl was armed with a knife ..yet I had no right to defend myself on my own property..I don’t get it either ..
      Someone email if they do understand it…

  16. I have a serious question that I feel you can help with. If someone is in an argument with another person, And you see that person reach down for their gun And you also have a gun. If you see them pull their weapon out And you are scared so you pull yours out and you pull the trigger, what might happen?!? My boyfriend was in that situation he is in jail right now waiting for his court date. And we are all scared of whats gonna happen.. can you tell me what might happen? Is he gonna be gone for a long time…

  17. I am confused with N.C. laws or eregulations regarding carrying a Taser. It is not a weapon and after quite a few inquiries the opinion is carrying one open or concealed is a felony. I find this rather disturbing due to law enforcements rejection toward using non- lethal force to protect yourself from dirt bags attacking you on your bicycle to do bodily harm, usually with a gun, and robbing you. Any insight on carrying and using a Taser, which is not a weapon, and should not be regulated, would be greatly appreciated

    • Look i can turn the samsung galaxy tab 2 that im using to type this right now with as a weapon. Do you even know what a taser does to people. If not why dont you use it on yourself to see what it does. Also if you’re riding a bike at night, why would you even ride slow enough that some random person just decides that they want to stop you and take your bike? When I used to ride my bike at night, if someone even thought about taking my bike while I was on it 1 of 2 things would have happened. (1) They can’t even catch me at that moment. (2) They would have gotten ran tf over causing them to be in a worse off situation than me.

  18. Most NC laws where made at the turn of the century. Also they come from the standpoint of with in reason that the person is a law abiding citizen, an innocent one defending one’s self against the bad guy/gal.
    But you got to take ego out of it, to understand it.
    Its all based on reason.
    Like for open carry hand guns on your hip, where everyone can see.
    I don’t think to many would challenge you with a gun on your hip.
    I carry my gun open carry at night, walking home from work.
    Ran into two situations in the past where because of the open carried weapon. (That I did not need to ever pull out, it was seen.) The situation was resolved. I am known for walking down town with a gun on my hip. Police even want me to buy their guns, or trade. No ego about it, more protesting my right to bare, target practice hobbies, and then self defense.
    But, self defense goes along way before you ever need to use a gun for self defense. Sometimes just don’t go to places you fear you might need to use self defense.
    Also don’t get brain washed by gun sellers trying to sell you that 50 round clip for that tiny Saturday night special, that was meant to carry only 6 rounds, because you might get attacked by Rambo in the trailer park. How much money they make off that clip, I wonder?
    Kinda funny if you watch youtube gun shop reviews on youtube, they really got them 50 round clips for a tiny gun.
    But, within reason, NC laws are mostly meant to protect life, and to give good reason why someone should not attack you, because they can see that gun on your hip, fair warning. Cause if your a grown adult with good eyesight, and you attack another adult, with a gun, on their hip, and you seen this gun. You may have just fulfilled God’s will for your life.
    Laws are made tight by some states to make sure that people learn them, and make ways to obey them, so if anything goes wrong, they know who failed by the law. Who didn’t read the law, they just got a gun to shoot somebody. Who obeys the law, knowing when to shoot. Then the people that will break any law.
    NC does not want to be like Texas, if anyone makes off with your money in Texas, from a escort that is illegal in Texas, to a guy cutting your grass without finishing. They are considered in theft of your money, and you can shoot them while they are walking away. Do you want self defense, or the ultimate write up for not finishing a job.
    I love NC laws.
    Just like obeying rules at my job, I follow the rules for having a gun on me for reasonable self defense. Its a policy work around it, find clever ways to live with it
    . But, in the end, I would not want to take anyone’s life, and even a snake hisses a warning. Oh also snakes cannot hear the warning they give you before they defend themselves.

  19. someone might steal your gun if its too nice with another gun, or with a baseball bat from behind.

  20. If a mother and her child came to my house to get away from the child’s father whom is abusive and he follows them to my property and tied to cause serious harm to the mother could I shoot him in self defense? Note I live in NC and I have my wife and 6 month old son that lives with me as well.

  21. What about defensive damage to intruder’s property? Concrete contractor excavated and set forms to pour a driveway extending on to my private property at the beach. Discovered on a Sunday. Neither contractor or neighbor could be contacted, so I cut a board of the concrete form at my property line and placed back on neighbor’s property. Sent email to neighbor with complaint. Neighbor apologized, but contractor complained I damaged his property.


  22. Mr Rubin,

    Other than this law, what has changed since your 1996 book on NC self defense? Do you have any other NC self defense books for sell since 1996. If not do you recommend any? Do you know of any literature that I can but that has case examples of sef defense in NC since 1996?

  23. So is there a law that Stats that if someone is hitting a person that person can’t do anything to defend themmselfs if its not on there property and not at work or in there car. So how can someone defend them selfs when there not at all three places work home or car? Is the person sopposed to just let it happen? Because if they fight back that person goes to jail and the one that started it stays home. I a lost so please give me some info about it

  24. Can a felon defend himself in the home against an intruder?

  25. I have a stalker and a weapon (cwp) as well. However, I do not want to kill him, but I want to blind him so that he will not be able to see how to get back here. He comes in and out of my home and automobile (drives it during the night – stole my 2nd set of keys to the car – think he is tryng to destroy the transmission) when he wants to. The police will not do anything because they can not catch him. So I will wait for him very soon, as I am sure he will be here within the next couple of weeks. Any other advice…he is very cleaver with what he does, it is not is first rodeo? No, he is not an aquaintance or lover, he is an ex-coworker that carefully planned this over a period of time and I think 5 years is enough!!! Any advice?

  26. if have been recently threaten by an man with a .40 Cal weapon that he was going to kill me. i went to the magestrate to get a restraining order however, i was told by the officer that it would only be good for wiping my butt. i have heard about a if i was able to place charges on him that would have him evaluated at a level 4 psych facility, what would be the charges i would have file?

  27. If a woman is tying to kick a locked bedroom door in that she no longer sleeps in (sleeps in a separate room of the house) and starts to trash the bedroom, does the male have the legal right to grab her arm in an effort to stop her. He tries to get her out of the room and in turn leaves a bruise, should he be arrested for assault on a female?

  28. […] “North Carolina law recognizes various circumstances in which a person may lawfully use force against the threat of harm. Through decades of decisions, the North Carolina appellate courts have recognized the right to defend oneself, other people, and one’s home and property, among other interests, and have developed rules on when those rights apply and amount to a defense to criminal charges. New G.S. 14-51.2, 14-51.3, and 14-51.4 address several of the circumstances in which a person may use defensive force. The statutes restate the law in some respects and broaden it in others. The courts will have to examine their procedures closely to give effect to the new statutory language. The new statutes are part of S.L. 2011-268 (H 650), which applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011.”  Whole article here, by John Rubin, UNC School of Government. […]

  29. IMHO, if a criminal didn’t want to get shot while breaking into one’s home, then they shouldn’t have broken into the home to begin with. Criminals should accept the risk/consequences if they chose to be criminals. If you wanted to jump off a bridge, you probably know that you will get injured or killed. If a criminal breaks into a home, they probably know that there’s a chance they will get injured or killed. Not sure why people seem to make a big deal of it.

  30. I never understood why some citizens as well as juries even consider disparity of force and meeting force with force. Size, weight and height does not matter in a street fight. The only reason there are weight classes in boxing are because they are genetically gifted to fight, have animal intensity and they train 24/7 to maximize there genetics. Taking a class a few times a week does not make you a martial artist anymore then reading a book everyday will make you a genius.

    I took martial arts for 8 years and realize how easy it is for someone to kick my ass. I am strong but lack intensity I would ease up. But a bullet does not and I will pull if needed. If you don’t believe me ask your wife to hit you in the ribs. It hurts and can bring you down if unexpected. In mma there are gloves, referees, doctors and mutual respect. If someone wants to fight me in the ring fine but outside no. How do I know if he will let me up if I lose, what if he kidnaps me, what if he has a weapon , has friends waiting or has a infectious disease? There are too many what ifs.

    If I see a perceived threat why must I play the criminals game? Why does he get to make the first move? Why play by his rules? Regardless of size if someone has the audacity to confront and attack me after I retreat or apologize, I assume he is crazy, has backup or a weapon. What criminal attacks someone they don’t have the upper hand on?

    I am big but why does that mean I need to be a punching bag? If you theaten me I brandish, if you come closer you are warned then I shoot. If you don’t fear a gun, you won’t fear beating me to a pulp.

    It’s ironic that we are weaker then most of the animal kingdom yet we crave physical superiority? Even a large bird such as an owl can kill us, yet we still train mma which is a primitive art. Our intelligence created guns. A gun means i do not have to suffer harm when I mean no hard to others

    I see all these anti cop threads say why don’t you disarm do this that. blahblah. Why do we reward and feel for the criminal. Of course I am not trigger happy and never want to fire on someone but maybe people will start to learn to respect other people’s right to quiet enjoyment of life.

    I think we need to legalize sanctioned bear knuckle fighting. If you have a beef, we both sign the paper and go to the ring. If I refuse you go about your business or be shot because you mean to do more harm then just fight.

    • When someone breaks in your house in a ski mask try to explain that to him and get him to sign his name on the waiver and im sure it will work out fine until the courts realize that name on the paper doesn’t hold up because you need to call time out to get it notarized which wont happen because the name will be fake and you’ll probably be shot or knocked out soon as you go to turn and reach for a pen and ask them if theyd like to sit and write up this contract lol I understand what your saying to a certain degree but at the same time from what you say about the size issue makes me revert back to when I went through the academy during a traffic stop or any other situation you better articulate why you pulled that trigger now if two civilians are slinging crack rocks and get into a fight and little man gets scared and shoots big guy then yes size wont play a issue, but theres a gun in every situation and I know small females also that make excellent Leo but are small they can hold there own but they do get tried obviously so she doesn’t know his daily routine or his background all she knows is he ran through a red light and stopped him called in the stop and just so happens doesn’t want to cooperate and fight this young small female with one hit shes knocked out now guess who has a guy standing over a knocked out leo that doesn’t get to go home to there family ever again its simple if you don’t want to get shot don’t do anything stupid if you get stopped use common sense ive never met anyone that would wake up put a uniform on and think man I hope I get to kill someone today in this day and age im sure there out there and its sick but add adrenaline and still stay in control of the situation obviously there better be a threat or shes going to jail herself but if you come in my house at 3am personally I feel like I shouldn’t have to ask you why you kicked in my door my thought it how to get a clear shot and you drop as soon as you make it through the door so im 50 50 with you on that one but your correct just like a big guy and a little guy with speed and training but the big guy cant shoot him bc they will think he could restrain the other guy but nobody seen the fight and crazy training combat moves little guy was doing wearing out the big guy so I see it both ways and I don’t disagree with you but it the moment you need to be able to make that split second decision as hard as it is if a cop says keep your hands on the wheel or out of your pockets I promise if you do that he will prob treat you with respect that you treat him with if you reach under your seat fast as you can youll probably be shot whos fault is it? the guy who should have kept his hands on the wheel in plain view but civilian side my house 3am im not shooting to injure that way I can get suied and pay the guy that was coming in my house for bad intentions that way I can pay him and he can go to the next house while I sit in prison I going to end the situation so the old woman down the road doesn’t have to be next on his list personally I think by shooting the intruder should be looked at as saving many future victim’s like the cop that guy didn’t just wake up and go to that level of criminal activity as a new hobby if you don’t stop the person you just hope the next one does. In the book it gets complicated but really if I feel my lifes at risk of being taken then you just be thankful you have more training than they do.

  31. so my wife has been stalked for over 9 mounts now we havent told police becuze he hasent physically touched or threaten her.but i see him day and night around are apartment, her work place
    and on acation followed her home from some random place she was at.what should i do, im to the point ware im going to confront this person and dont know what my rights are, she has told him time and time again that she is taken and has no interest in a relationship with the person. yet he keeps his distance and keeps prowling. i feel like hes waiting for the right moment to take or do something criminal, please git back to me asap cuz the next time i see him no matter the place i will be confronting him ty for ur time…

  32. I am new to nc. We came from md where has a fine line on self deff. Laws. The other day we where at my sisters house and these guys kept bothering my husband he tried to leave to aviod trouble but ended up fighting this guy the guys friends got mad that my husband won the fight so 15 of them jumped him. I grabed the gun out the house and screamed for them to get off him or I would shoot. My husband is mad at me for not shooting even though them backed off my husband. Should I of shot?

  33. Could I of shot with out getting in trouble I have never even shot his gun befor either.

  34. Can you use reasonable force to eject a trespasser from your property?

    If he fights back, may you increase your force proportionate to his force?

    Did anyone see that UConn Mac N’ Cheese video that went viral about a month ago? The 19 year was drunk and demanding food. After 15 minutes, someone finally took him down. It’s amazing how much Americans put up with because we fear confrontation.

    If you don’t leave my property, I will ask you to leave the easy way or the hard way. Hard way would be an arm escort. If fought, I would exchange blows and subdue the trespasser by holding him down and having someone call the cops.

  35. Please reply to this message of actual events. Non custodial parent was given temporary custody of children, the court order was written by a judge in WV. Parent with paper work and NC law enforcement went to a family home trying to find mother and children. “father in law” said he has nothing to do with this and didn’t know where the kids are”. Police left and soon after that the father in law drives to a shack and brings the mother and kids back to his residence. The father of the children call the police again. Father in law refuses to give up mother and children. Father in law sends a text to the father of the kids “Mother and children are under my protection. Lawfully according to nc state law. Please do not attempt to approach. “FATHER N’ LAW” Question???? is the father in law under your NEW SELF DEFENSE LAW allow to harbor and protect the mother and children fully knowing about the court documents? And the words he used in his text “do not approach” is this an aggressive threat or can he say this defending himself under the “NEW SELF DEFENSE LAW? I’m not looking for an emotional answer. I am looking for the correct answer to this situation. Thank you

    • thats a thret and you cain’t just run that mouth to any one and every one

  36. Would a driver that is texting and driving be considered a threat to surrounding drivers? If so what would the rights be of the surrounding drivers in order to protect their and their familir lives?

  37. I sure wish these contemptible lawyers would make it so that normal, everyday people could understand the legal issues involved with defending one’s family and self. It would be nice to have answers without having to study law for 700 hours or pay an attorney. Something like “If a scumbag breaks into your home, sure, kill said scumbag. You’re cool.” Instead, I have to wonder if I will get the death penalty because I didn’t let the scumbag get to within 4 feet of my daughter’s throat with a 12″ knife or some ridiculous thing.

  38. Does NC apply Alter Ego when in defense of another person? If so, does the State apply this in every case? Or do they apply the reasonable perception paradigm?

  39. I have a question about using deadly force. I know a police officer is justified in shooting an individual who makes an attempt to acquire the officer’s handgun. However, as a civilian who open carries frequently, if someone walks up to me and attempts to lay hands on my holstered gun, do I then have the legal right to use deadly force in the assumption the assailant was intending to arm himself to cause deadly harm to me or those around me?

  40. […] here, and here. North Carolina now has a similar statute, as my colleague John Rubin discussed here. But it’s pretty clear that this case has nothing to do with whether Zimmerman could stand his […]

  41. Is it legal for someone to carry & use a small hatchet for self defense in NC?

  42. I was in my car one time and someone tried to enter my car to attack me. I was able to lock the doors though. I’m average sized, skinny arms. The guy that attempted to attack me is known to be a steroid user and is very huge. Can you shoot in that situation if they actually enter your car and intend to harm you? I’m thinking someone that size could seriously injure you or maybe kill you with a punch or a slam on the pavement. Btw, I was minding my own business and didn’t instigate anything.

  43. I’m thankful that NC has enacted this law. If someone I don’t know enters my car or home without being invited, MY personal effing space, so my assumption will ALWAYS be that my life is in danger. Without knowing what kind of harm, my will to survive and protect myself and my daughter will always make me think of the worst case scenario. Isn’t that human nature? I’m not a mind-reader. I’m not waiting for that person to make a move. They’re not where they’re supposed to be and they know that. If I wait, I might not get another chance to defend myself.

  44. Dear John:

    Thank you for all of the great work you have performed on behalf of the citizens of North Carolina. I own a copy of your first book and will make it a priority to purchase the next one when it comes out. I have also had the pleasure of hearing you speak at CLE conferences. You are a true scholar of the law.

    I have tried well over one hundred jury trials in this state in at least five counties. I have a great appreciation for what it means to have twelve strangers determine your fate. I believe picking a juror is like being forced to marry someone you don’t know after a very very short courtship. You don’t have the luxury of getting to know them or divorce them if you find out that you have nothing in common and extremely different viewpoints. Then you have to remember there are twelve of them and your ideas of reasonableness and their’s is probably not the same. Even worse, some of the jurors do not want to serve and are more interested in what’s for supper than your case. I have even seen some jurors sleep during a trial.

    With all of that said, I hope I never have to be a Defendant in a death case trial. To those of you who are a little more cavalier in your attitudes and believe this is an issue where everything is either black or white, all I can say is you are in for a Hell of a surprise if you ever wind up sitting in the Defendant’s seat. I know we need guns and unfortunately they have to be used against others for self defense. Just don’t take it for granted that everyone will see things your way.

    Colin McWhirter

  45. In NC if there’s a fight in a store and the aggressor approaches two young men, he starts a verbal altercation then punches one of them. The second individual tries to protect a female friend of the aggressor. She proceeds to attack the second male and screams “He has a gun” never see this young man brandish a weapon but he was in posession of a weapon does that give the aggressor the right to shoot and kill and claim self defense?