CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – Many states have a castle doctrine law which allows someone to legally use lethal force in matters of self-defense if they are in a place that they have the legal right to be. But, is that the case in West Virginia?

While the answer is technically yes, there is a lot more to it.

§55-7-22 of the West Virginia Code lists the circumstances that one can legally defend themselves in the case of a home invasion.

According to the code, “A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence is justified in using reasonable and proportionate force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker to prevent a forcible entry into the home or residence or to terminate the intruder’s or attacker’s unlawful entry if the occupant reasonably apprehends that the intruder or attacker may kill or inflict serious bodily harm upon the occupant or others in the home or residence or if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder or attacker intends to commit a felony in the home or residence and the occupant reasonably believes deadly force is necessary.”

This was later amended to include that the lawful occupant “does not have a duty to retreat,” meaning that they will not be penalized if they choose not to retreat from a dangerous situation as described above.

The code also clarifies that “reasonable and proportionate force” includes “a full and complete defense to any civil action brought by an intruder or attacker against a person using such force.”

However, there are limits that omit someone from being legally protected, including:

  • Attempting to commit, committing or escaping from the commission of a felony.
  • Provoking the use of force against oneself or another with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant.
    • Unless oneself withdraws and clearly indicates to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force and the assailant continues their use of force anyways.
  • Creating a hazardous or dangerous condition on or in any real or personal property designed to prevent criminal conduct or cause injury to a person engaging in criminal conduct.
  • Resisting or obstructing a law-enforcement officer acting in the course of his or her duty.

For more information regarding West Virginia castle doctrine, click here.

For more about general self defense, click here.